Dad needs freedom; son needs to grow up

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar

Creators Syndicate Inc.

DEAR ANNIE: I met my present husband, "Tom," a few months after my divorce, and he’s everything I ever dreamed of in a husband. Right now, we live 60 miles apart because of our jobs. Tom will retire next year and wants to live where I am, but he’ll need to sell his house. The problem is his 21-year-old son, "Chip," who lives with him.

Chip lives in the basement, which looks like a pigsty. He doesn’t work, has frequent parties and trashes the house on weekends when we aren’t there. He admits he does drugs, which makes it hard to get a job because of the drug tests. I would throw Chip out and change the locks, but Tom can’t seem to go the tough love route.

I refuse to stay in Tom’s house because I’m afraid of Chip. The kid has an anger problem, and he shows no respect for his father. Tom actually sleeps with his bedroom door locked and a big board up against it.


Tom says he’s afraid if he kicks Chip out of the house, he will demolish the place before he goes. I love my husband, but feel so hopeless. Tom is only 58, but has high blood pressure. I worry all this stress will kill him. How can I help? — Worried Wife

DEAR WIFE: Tom should inform Chip that he’s putting the house on the market within the year. He can then make it clear that if Chip trashes it, it will lower the selling price, which means less money for Chip in the long run, since we assume Dad will continue to help support him. Chip might have enough sense to respond to that, but even if he doesn’t, a lower selling price is better than none. Tom needs to set himself free, and his son needs to grow up. All you can do is encourage them both.

DEAR ANNIE: I will celebrate my ninth year of sobriety next month. Miraculously, I do not have the urge to drink, nor am I uncomfortable around people who do. When placed in the position of having to refuse a glass, I do so by firmly stating that I do not drink. I don’t feel the need to elaborate.

The problem is my friend "Sarah." She feels it is her responsibility to "protect" me from acquaintances who don’t know my history by going behind my back to ask them not to offer me alcohol because I’m an alcoholic. This feels like an extreme invasion of my privacy. It also undermines my authority over the problem and establishes a negative first impression that is completely unwarranted. Sarah disagrees, saying she is simply trying to help me avoid unpleasantness. I say there is a reason why it is called Alcoholics "Anonymous." Your thoughts? — Proudly Sober

DEAR PROUDLY SOBER: Sarah is displaying passive-aggressive behavior. Under the guise of "friendship," she is actually trying to embarrass you. She enjoys the fact that you don’t like it. Tell her to stop immediately.

DEAR ANNIE: I read the letter from "Thumbelina," who lost 40 pounds and was having a problem with her appearance.

I lost over 100 pounds and have kept it off for six years. I, too, expected lots of positives for the "new" me. What I got instead was jealousy and suspicion. Women who were once my friends wanted nothing to do with me. My in-laws thought I was going to have an affair.

I have sagging skin, but I use weights to tone up. I have a hard time looking in the mirror, but my husband keeps telling me how beautiful I am. I’d like to tell Thumbelina to keep focusing on the wonderful health benefit of her weight loss. As far as I know, saggy skin doesn’t cause heart attacks or strokes. — Been There, Felt Like That in North Dakota


DEAR NORTH DAKOTA: It took a lot of hard work to get where you are today. Congratulations on keeping a positive attitude.

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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