Dear Annie: Several years ago, I married the man of my dreams.
“Darren” was everything I wanted. He had three children, two from a previous marriage and one from an earlier relationship.
Darren told me all about his children before we married, and I appreciated his honesty.
He gave me the option of ending our relationship if this was something I couldn’t handle.
He allowed his oldest child to be adopted by her stepfather, and here’s what I couldn’t handle: While I was out shopping, someone who knew this child repeated a bit of information that devastated me.
She said she thought there was sexual abuse going on. I immediately told Darren.
Now, I am being chastised by a member of the clergy who said I should have kept quiet and treated this information as gossip. Should I have?
Dear Stepmom: Absolutely not. While it is terrible to accuse an innocent person of abuse, it is worse to allow a child to be abused because you are reluctant to speak out.
Darren deserved to know what you heard so he could check out the information to see if there was any truth to it.
Dear Annie: I am a 13-year-old girl and think I might have breast cancer.
I looked at the signs online, and I’m scared.
How can I bring this up to my mom? As far as I know, there’s no history of it in my family.
— Worried in Arizona
Dear Worried: We’re not sure why you think you have breast cancer.
If you found a lump, please know that many are benign cysts and harmless. However, it makes sense to have any anomaly checked out by a physician.
Bring this letter to your mom, and tell her you wrote it. And, Mom: Please make an appointment with a doctor so your daughter can rest easy knowing she is OK.
We hope she is.
Dear Annie: I read with interest the letter from “Michigan Molly,” whose friends invite themselves to her summer home.
My best friend, “Sherri,” and her husband own a cottage in northern Michigan. Every summer, she invites my family to spend a couple of weeks with them.
I always make sure to help with laundry, dishes and food when we visit. Over the winter, my husband spent a lot of time helping them renovate the cottage.
My son absolutely loves it there, and I’ve come to know many of the summer residents and look forward to seeing them.
Months ago, Sherri invited my son and me for a week in early August because she wanted my help with some event.
Two days before, I saw Sherri at a party, and she said she no longer needed me that week and I’d be up anyway a few weeks later.
Annie, I totally understand that it is her cottage and she can invite or uninvite whoever she wants.
However, I planned part of my summer around this week and turned down other opportunities for my children.
What hurts the most is that my son won’t be able to experience a summer vacation that he really loves. He talks about going up there all the time.
Her telling me two days before seems so callous that I’ve decided not to go back again.
It’s like I’ve lost my best friend, and my heart is breaking for my son.
How do I deal with this? Please don’t tell me to talk with her. I’m not a good communicator.
— Sitting at Home in Michigan
Dear Michigan: You are interpreting this much more harshly than you need to.
Sherri probably has no idea that you restructured your summer around her cottage invitation and assumed it was no big deal for you to skip that week.
By not returning, you, not Sherri, are depriving your son of a wonderful experience.
Either tell her it hurt you that she canceled at the last minute, or let it go.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.