COL Is he shy, or too mature for his peers?

Dear Annie: My handsome, smart 16-year-old son has always been shy. While growing up, he had a small group of friends. However, the last couple of years he has become increasingly withdrawn, even from those he was close to before.

I have tried to get "Adam" to participate in school activities, and although he takes part in sports, he will not consider anything else. He seldom participates in the social events going on at school. When I suggest activities to do or people to call, he refuses. Adam seems perfectly content to spend time in family activities, and although we love his company, I feel he needs to do "kid" things.

I don't want to risk alienating him by suggesting a counselor, but I am concerned that he is comfortable only around adults. -- Omaha, Neb.

Dear Omaha: Not every child needs to be pushed into the social whirl. When Adam plays sports, does he have a problem being part of the team? Does he talk to other kids at school, even if he doesn't see them outside of class?

Shyness can be debilitating for some children. Find out (through teachers, coaches, school counselors or parents of classmates) if Adam is being ostracized or bullied, and has given up trying to be part of a group. It's also possible his preference for adults indicates a maturity he hasn't found in his peers. If you notice discomfort or belligerence about socializing, take him to see a counselor. Otherwise, let him be.


Dear Annie: I am hesitant to allow my 8-year-old daughter to sleep over at her girlfriend's house because the girl bathes with her brother, "Tom," age 12. I do not wish to expose my daughter to a boy's nudity. What do you say? -- Maryland Mom

Dear Maryland: We do not recommend that children of the opposite sex bathe together past the age of 5, but there is no reason to believe that Tom will bathe with your daughter. Talk to the parents and explain your concerns. Then either bathe your daughter before she goes to her friend's house, or tell her she is not permitted to be undressed in front of Tom. She's old enough to follow directions.

Dear Annie: I was steaming after reading the letter from "J.B. in the East," who said all stay-at-home wives are parasites.

When our children were born, my husband and I made the decision that I would stay home to raise them. Although I have a university degree and held a terrific job, I am happy to be home with my children. They wake up to a mother who gets them ready for the day, gives them a hot breakfast and walks with them to school. I am there to assist with homework and listen to their daily adventures.

When my husband comes home after a long and tiring day, the house is clean and fresh and supper is waiting. He knows how lucky he is and understands the value of the work I do. You bet I am entitled to an equal share of all we have built as a team. -- Full Partner, Not a Parasite

Dear Partner: Parents who can afford to stay home and raise their children are fortunate indeed, and so are their families. The parent who provides nurturing, along with chauffeur service and home cooking, is worth any price.

Dear Readers: Today marks the second anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. Please take a moment out of your day to remember those who died, as well as the heroic emergency personnel who put their own lives in peril, and the courageous passengers on United Flight 93, who sacrificed themselves by bringing down the plane in Pennsylvania, preventing it from doing greater harm.

Say a prayer for the continued strength of the families of those who are no longer with us, but who always will be remembered.


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, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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