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Archive for Sunday, October 7, 2001

Caller ID can screen brother with hang-ups

October 7, 2001

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Dear Ann: My mother had three children and gave all of us up for adoption when we were infants. My sister and I found each other several years ago, and recently, we were reunited with our brother. We were thrilled to find him, but now I'm not so sure it was such a good idea.

"Thomas" is extremely needy and has become a pest. He phones every day, sometimes twice a day. Every call lasts at least half an hour, and all he does is complain about how our mother abandoned us. I don't want to stop talking to Thomas, but I have a busy life, and he has become a pain in the neck.

My sister signed up for Caller ID and doesn't pick up when Thomas phones. I feel completely smothered by his neediness and don't know how to reclaim my life. What can I do without hurting his feelings? Smothered in Dixie

Dear Dixie: Your sister has the right idea. Caller ID (if available in your area) and an answering machine were tailor-made for situations such as this one. Pick up only when it is convenient. Decide how long you want to talk, and end the conversation when you've had enough. Say, "Sorry, I have a lot to do today, and I must hang up now." Then, click off before he has a chance to say anything more. Remember the old Ann Landers admonition: "No one can take advantage of you without your permission."

Dear Ann: Our son, who will soon be 20 years old, is involved with a 31-year-old woman who has two children. She is married, but he told us she is legally separated. My husband and I were hoping his interest in her would fizzle out, but now they are talking about marriage. We are frantic.

Our son doesn't have a dime and can't even rent a place of his own. He blew every cent he had earned working part time during school, so we paid to send him to college and also made his truck and insurance payments while he was having a good time. He is now home from college, does not plan to return to his studies, and he is working in the family business.

We don't mind that he is living at home, but we don't know how to deal with his relationship with this older woman. I have told him I don't want her here. We are not willing to provide financial help so that he can get his own place which would make it easier for him to continue the relationship.

He has told us we don't understand and he is right. We don't. He gets mad when we try to reason with him. How should we handle this? A Frantic Mom

Dear Fran: You and your husband have been classic "enablers." Until you learn to say NO, your son will lean on you. Tell him you'll support him if he wants to return to college, but beyond that, he gets nothing. And make it stick. Meanwhile, say no more about the girlfriend. You can't force him to stop seeing her, and the more you object, the more appealing she will be.

Dear Ann: A dear friend's daughter is getting married. My husband and I have not been invited. At first, I thought the wedding must be a small, intimate affair, and that's why we weren't sent an invitation, but I have since learned it is going to be a major bash.

We have always been invited to their parties, anniversaries and everything else. I am terribly hurt that we weren't included this time. I'm sure to run into this friend at some social function soon. What should I say? Slighted in Sacramento

Dear Sac: Smile sweetly, and make no mention of being excluded. Silence can speak louder than words. (P.S. Just a thought when was the last time you invited this friend to something?)

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