Dear Annie:I have raised my stepdaughter, "Candace," for the past 10 years. Her mother passed away tragically when she was very young, and I have tried to be a friend ever since, standing up for her, bending over backward to be good to her.

Two years ago, my husband and I almost separated because Candace decided she wanted to live with a friend. She told her father it was because of me. She knew he would side with her and tell me to leave, and that was the card she played. My husband wears blinders over his eyes when it comes to her.

Fortunately, we are still together, but I am still hurt by what she did that night. I have always tried my best, only to get stabbed in the back or slapped in the face. I want to tell Candace that I have done nothing but care for her and she has only hurt me in return. She is selfish and only wants what works in her interests. Should I speak to her about how I feel, or is it a waste of breath?

— Hurt and Saddened

Dear Hurt: It is not unusual for teenagers and young adults to rebel against their parents, and in your case, Candace had the powerful ammunition of being a stepchild. Please do not rise to the bait and make her believe she still has the ability to destroy your marriage. If you need to vent, talk to your clergyperson or a counselor. Meanwhile, continue to be as kind to Candace as you can manage and hope she eventually grows up.

Dear Annie:I have a wonderful daughter who just turned 7. She is well-liked, well-behaved and enjoys school. Her favorite activities are reading, playing with dolls and getting muddy in the backyard.

I have seen her take joy and pride in a new accomplishment. I present her with opportunities for new activities and am supportive of her efforts. I don't want to be the crazy dad who forces his kid to do things she isn't ready for or isn't interested in. However, I would like to see her develop both the confidence and physical ability to enjoy a range of activities with her friends and family and, most importantly, for her own pleasure. Any suggestions?

— A Dad

Dear Dad: Not all kids are suited for athletics, particularly team sports. Try doing things one on one with your daughter — play tag, catch Frisbees or shoot baskets in the park, jog around the block, and maybe once a week, get her up on the two-wheeler for a few minutes. While it is good for your daughter to be physically active, it does not mean she has to participate in organized sports. Encourage her talents, whatever they may be.

Dear Annie: Twice recently, you misused the abbreviation "i.e.," so I thought I would try to straighten the matter out.

What you have done is use "i.e." when "e.g." was intended. The abbreviation "i.e." is a complete enumeration of ALL possibilities. It stands for "id est," meaning "that is," which infers a complete list of what items answer the condition. But if the intent was to list a few examples, "e.g." is the correct term. It is an abbreviation of "exempli gratia," meaning "for example," or "example given," and lists representative items.

When you told "Wife of a Motor Mouth" to interest her husband in a hobby and added "i.e., photography or crafts that he can display," you implied that there were no other choices. Using "e.g." would have left the door open for other possibilities.

— Larry in Bakersfield, Calif.

Dear Larry: Thanks for hauling us up short. As another Latin expert once informed us, nostra culpa is the correct way to say "We're sorry."

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.