Annie's Mailbox for March 22, 2011: Wife enabling grown son

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Dear Annie: I am having a problem and don't know what to do. Please do not suggest counseling, because I tried, and my wife won't even consider it.

We married 17 years ago. Both of us were in our mid-50s. She had two grown children, and I had none. There wasn't supposed to be any baggage coming into this marriage. However, a few months after our wedding, her son's wife kicked him out for cheating — with both men and women. For the past 10 years, we have had nothing but problems with this guy. He is a drunken bum, and I suspect he is doing hard drugs now. He has had a few jobs, none for very long. His massive temper gets him fired every time.

We are retired on Social Security and my military pension. For some reason, this 51-year-old guy thinks I should support him. He lives in my travel trailer and draws food stamps. He takes enough odd jobs to pay for his bad habits, but regardless of how much he earns, he is back over here needing money for gas or groceries, and of course, Mommy will not say no. She enables him and makes excuses for everything he does. As a result, we fight continuously.

My stepson is eligible for medical care at the VA. He is HIV-positive and uses that as the reason he is a loser. But when you blow several hundred dollars in three days, there is something wrong. We are at the point of divorce. Any suggestions?

— Marriage on the Rocks

Dear Marriage: Some parents believe that enabling their children is a way to help them. It is not. It enfeebles them and makes them dependent. However, unless you can convince your wife of this, the situation will not change. Your choice is to give up or walk away. If you want to see a counselor for help with that decision, your wife does not need to go with you. We also suggest you urge your stepson to take advantage of the counseling and medical services offered through the VA.

Dear Annie: I am a high school student. I've tried asking others what to do, but no one will listen to me.

At school, there are some boys who think it's funny to call me ugly and fat, and to curse at me. I have no idea what to do. I've talked to the counselors at school, but I keep feeling maybe everyone would be better off if I just left. Please help.

— Hurt

Dear Hurt: This is a textbook case of bullying, and the school counselors should be doing more to stop it. Please talk to your parents, and ask them to speak to the principal and insist that the school intervene. In the meantime, hold your head up, ignore these immature boys, and check out kidpower.org, kidshealth.org and stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov for helpful suggestions.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Wisconsin," the widow whose friends all showed up for the funeral, but now have disappeared from her life.

I had the same problem. I put an ad in the local paper asking widows and single ladies to contact me to start a social group. The response was terrific. We called ourselves the SOLOS and had a meeting every month to talk and have outings. We became a tight-knit group, developed strong friendships and helped each other out in every way. That was nine years ago, and our group is still growing.

Tell Wisconsin that widowhood doesn't have to be lonely. She simply needs to work on changing her social structure. Also, she might check to see if there is a Newcomers Club in her area. That is a great group for singles, as well as couples.

— Alone and Happy in North Carolina

Dear N.C.: What an empowering idea. Perhaps others in the same situation will follow your lead.

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