Dear Annie: I need your advice on how to deal with my very violent father. He knows no boundaries, has no respect for anyone and exerts zero control over himself. He is physically violent and verbally abusive. He threw chairs at his 82-year-old mother and lost his temper at my cousin’s wedding and made a huge scene.
Mom tolerated him, but he beat her and she nearly lost her hearing. My brothers stayed with him until they could go to college, and both are now in therapy for PTSD and anger issues. I fled my father’s house when I was 17. After 13 years, I still have nightmares about him.
My grandfather’s 100th birthday is coming up, and my uncle arranged a big party. Needless to say, the entire extended family is expected to attend. I will go and remain cordial to my father for Grandpa’s sake, but what do I do if he rages and tries to assault someone?
— Worried Sick
Dear Worried: If Dad assaults anyone, call the police immediately. Do not get into a physical altercation with him. Make it about a crime being committed. The fact that he is your father is no reason to tolerate his abuse or make excuses for him. Someone needs to stand up to the bully, and you sound like the only one brave enough to do it.
Dear Annie: My daughter-in-law is expecting our first grandchild, and I recently attended the first of two baby showers given for her. I’m sorry to say, I was embarrassed and hurt by her behavior toward her guests.
She complained about her co-workers who did not show up. She barely acknowledged the gifts she was given, including my handcrafted items for the nursery. She criticized the hometown of many of the guests as “old and dirty” and said the stores there were inadequate to stock her gift registry.
I do not think I can bring myself to attend her second shower. Of course, speaking critically about her to my son would not be productive. Should I go or not?
Dear Mother-in-Law: Go. It’s a shame your daughter-in-law is so grossly inconsiderate of her guests, but you will accomplish nothing by avoiding her celebrations. She seems ignorant of basic manners and not too bright. The best way to help is to set a good example, without criticizing her. If she disparages someone’s hometown, you can chime in with, “But it can be such a charming place.” When she barely acknowledges a gift, fill in the blanks: “What a lovely platter.” This gives your daughter-in-law the opportunity to learn from you. But you also should do your best to make your daughter-in-law feel special at her shower. It will mitigate any sense that you disapprove of her, and she will be more open to your suggestions in the future. And perhaps someone will give her an etiquette book as a gift.
Dear Annie: I’m a faithful reader, but I somehow must have missed the plea for forgotten Father’s Day songs. If it isn’t too late, here’s one that I learned as a child (I’m 76). I hadn’t thought of it in years.
— J.R. in Manhattan Beach, Calif.
You are a wonderful Daddy,
Dear old Daddy of mine.
You own a spot so deep in my heart,
That the stars no longer shine.
Your name will live on forever,
Down through the fields of time.
There’ll never be another to me,
Like that wonderful Daddy of mine.
Dear Readers: Today is Family Day (casafamilyday.org). Studies show that children who eat dinner with their parents have a reduced risk of substance abuse. Please try to make meals a family event.
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. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.