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Annie's mailbox: Annie's Mailbox: Parents need to learn how to be parents

Dear Annie: My husband's brother has a 10-year-old son. He's an only child and still sleeps with his parents. He has a perfectly nice bedroom, but they never got around to making him sleep by himself.

My brother-in-law travels a great deal for work, and when he's away, "Timmy" sleeps in his mother's bed. When my brother-in-law is home, one of the parents sleeps with Timmy in his bedroom.

During the holidays, things happened that caused problems with the cousins. Timmy doesn't sit at the table for family dinners. He throws tantrums because he doesn't want to eat what everyone else is eating. Of course, his young cousins then copy him.

Also, the children help with the cleanup — even the youngest takes her plate to the kitchen. Timmy, however, watches TV. No one insists that he lift a finger.

Timmy has been diagnosed with ADHD, but doesn't he still require structure? His parents have never said "no" to him. He really is a sweet kid, but has few friends, and because he hasn't been taught better manners, things will only get worse as he gets older.

A few of us have tried talking to his parents. They know they should set some boundaries and work on his behavior, but they haven't done so. Any suggestions? — Concerned Family

Dear Concerned: Parenting is a tough job. It requires that parents do what is best for their child even if it is difficult and taxing for them. Your brother-in-law and his wife have decided it's too much effort to reprogram their son, so they allow him to run the show, and he knows it.

Suggest they discuss this with the pediatrician and get a referral for a family counselor who will teach them how to be the parents their child needs.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Going Gray and Loving It," who is 45 and doesn't color her hair.

I started coloring my hair at age 40 to please my husband. He said, "It's not so bad being a grandfather, but it's no fun being married to a grandmother. Please get rid of the gray." So, for 30-some years, I was a redheaded "hottie" in his eyes.

Recently, after I got smart and tired of coloring every six months, I quit. Guess what? Not one of my silver-haired friends noticed the difference. They accept me at face value and love me just the same as when I was an auburn-haired "beauty." And I am sure, from up on his cloud, that my husband does, too.

I love my silvered hair. — Been There

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. ©