Annie's Mailbox for June 3, 2011: Looking to reconcile relationship with daughter

Dear Annie: I have two daughters, "Kathy" and her younger sister, "Carly," both in their late 20s. Carly and I have always had a rocky relationship, stemming from my being the disciplinarian since my wife refused to do it. Kathy always seemed more understanding and forgiving.

After Carly graduated and I no longer sent her monthly checks, she stopped speaking to me. She only contacted me when she needed something. Last fall, she had my first grandchild. I didn't even know she was pregnant until I got a card from her a few months after the baby was born. I still don't know the baby's name, sex or birth date or if Carly married the father. I don't even know who the father is.

I'm heartbroken, not only because Carly kept it a secret, but because Kathy also kept it from me. Kathy says she didn't want to get involved because it was between Carly and me. How do I deal with this?

— Need Help in Kentucky

Dear Kentucky: You must forgive Kathy. She was between a rock and a hard place, but she was right that the decision to inform you belonged to her sister.

Instead of focusing on how much this hurt, try to look for ways to mend your relationship with both of your daughters, especially Carly. You might even ask Kathy for help and suggestions. And sometimes a new grandchild can provide a reason to repair an estrangement. We hope so.

Dear Annie: I've been married for 19 years. We have a blended family with four children still at home. "Joe" is an alcoholic and a heavy smoker. When I was ready to leave him over the drinking, he begged me to stay and is now two months sober. We quit smoking together 11 years ago, but after four years, Joe started up again. He's now smoking three packs a day, often in the house.

My father had four brothers who smoked. Three of them died of lung cancer, as did my father. Given my family history, I do not want my children or myself exposed to cigarette smoke. I hate the smell on my hair and clothes. Kids at school have asked my 16-year-old if she started smoking because they can smell it on her.

Joe does not believe secondhand smoke is a health risk. I begged him, in tears, to stop smoking in the house. I do not want to give up on a 19-year marriage, but I want to live to see my grandchildren. Should I walk?

— Not So Lucky in Kentucky

Dear Not Lucky: The dangers of secondhand smoke are well documented, and anyone who refuses to admit the risks is in deep denial. Your husband is addicted to tobacco and may be unable to give it up without assistance. Suggest he speak to his doctor and also look into smokefree.gov for tips. Until then, insist he smoke outside the home. If he is unwilling to make the effort to protect your health and that of your children, you should ask him to leave.

Dear Annie: Why do you try to find a reason (sleep apnea, low testosterone, etc.) for a man's low sex drive? Let's be honest. It's called getting older. Do you seriously expect men who are 50, 60 and older to have the same sex drive they did when they were in their 20s?

You are denying the facts of life. As we get older, our reproductive years are behind us. Quit trying to pump a sex drive into this guy with shots, pills or counseling. It's unnatural.

— Realist

Dear Realist: While testosterone levels decline as men age, there is nothing natural about a 50-year-old man losing his sex drive entirely. Low testosterone can cause depression, infertility, hair loss, osteoporosis, decreased muscle mass, fatigue and sleep disturbances. These are medical issues that can be helped with appropriate treatment.

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