Dear Annie: I am the only boy in my family. I have one older and two younger sisters. One of my sisters has a daughter (my niece), whom I will call "Demon Spawn" to protect the innocent.
Demon Spawn has always lived up to her name. When she was very young, she would torment my two sons until they became so fed up that they would defend themselves, which always got them into trouble, much to her delight. She would verbally torment and abuse my wife at family gatherings after I left the room. I once stayed near the doorway and heard it all. I exploded in anger, but she was forgiven, as always, because she had a "rough life growing up." That's a lot of baloney.
She once had my mother co-sign for furniture that mom ended up paying for, not to mention the time she stole money and a credit card from my mother's purse.
Eventually, Demon Spawn had two kids, but she never married. She went on welfare, gave up her kids, got into meth and ended up in prison. Just before she was released, I told my mother that I refuse to be in the same house with her, especially with my two young grandchildren present.
Well, Demon Spawn managed to convince my mother to let her back into the family, claiming she's changed. I don't believe it for one minute. My wife and I and my son and grandkids didn't attend our family Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner because she was present. It appears that my mother, knowing how I feel, has picked Demon Spawn over her only son. This girl is pure evil, and I want no part of her. How do I get my mother to see the light? — Hurt
Dear Hurt: When you issue ultimatums, you must be willing to accept the consequences. Mom undoubtedly believes you will be OK without her because you have a family support structure of your own. Your niece, however, has no one to help her. She may be a total mess, but your mother still cares about her. We hope Ms. Spawn actually has changed, but if not, please don't make your mother more miserable than she's going to be.
Dear Annie: When you spend your vacation staying with friends at their home, what is the proper etiquette regarding taking them out for dinner, buying groceries, paying admission to area attractions, etc.?
When friends or family stay with us, we try to have food on hand that they like, and we often treat them to restaurant meals and tickets and admission fees. After all, they spent a good amount of money traveling to see us.
We love our guests, enjoy their visits and want them to have a good time, but it can get expensive. What are the guidelines? — Happy Host With a Sad Pocketbook
Dear Host: You should provide your guests with meals at home, or supply food to which they can help themselves. Considerate guests who stay for a weekend or longer should treat their hosts to at least one meal (or groceries or some form of entertainment). You are not obligated to buy tickets or admission fees. Nor do you need to rearrange your schedule and drive them around unless you want to. Guests should enjoy visiting with you, and you should not go broke having them.
Dear Annie: My 59-year-old husband of 15 years wants to leave the U.S. and move abroad for a few years because he is not getting along with his family. He insists I also pack up and move.
My three children are adults, but still, I do not want to leave them. I told my husband he cannot run away from his problems, but he insists that is not what he's doing. But he provides no other reason for wanting to move out of the country.
I have no intention of moving to Europe or Mexico. If he wants to go, I plan to sell our house and move into an apartment, where I will await his return. I am too old to learn another language and adapt to another culture, find new doctors, get health and dental insurance, etc. I want to relax and enjoy my retirement and visit my children. I am not going. Period. Am I being selfish? — Staying Put in Texas
Dear Texas: No. This is the type of decision that should be mutually agreed upon. We will say that living in another country can expand your horizons and may be a better and more worthwhile experience than you are willing to accept. However, you should not be forced into it. One compromise would be for you to visit him for several months at a time. But keep in mind that long separations can occasionally lead to permanent ones.
Dear Annie: You've mentioned how important it is for people to have a current will. A friend of mine recently passed away. He was a smart guy and had all of his affairs in order. But his computer had a password, as did his e-mail, business contacts, financial records and social networking sites. There were quite a few people his family couldn't contact because they didn't know the password.
In addition to the will and arrangements, please tell your readers to leave a record of their electronic information with a family member or an attorney. — Concerned in Canada
Dear Canada: Excellent and timely information. Thank you.
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.
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