Dear Annie: I have a nine-year-old daughter who I love more than anything in this world.
Her mother and I split up when she was two. “Carrie” is an amazing girl, and we are very close. I try to spend as much time with her as possible. I know she wishes she had both of her parents all the time, and looking back, I wish things could have turned out differently, but it’s too late now.
I have explained to Carrie that life doesn’t always end up how we want, but her mother and I both love her very much. I encourage her to be open with me, but I get the impression that she is holding back.
I wish I had a clear idea of how to handle this situation properly for her sake. When I dropped her off at her mom’s last night, she was fine until I was turning to leave, and then the tears started to pour. It kills me to see her so upset, and I feel helpless. The divorce has obviously taken its toll.
How can I help her accept that her parents will never be together? I am beginning to blame myself for her unhappiness because I am the one who left the marriage. After last night, I can’t stop thinking about it and feel the need to do something. Any advice? — Grateful but Worried Dad
Dear Grateful: Some children never give up the fantasy of having their divorced parents get back together. Showing Carrie how sad and guilty you feel gives her hope that she has influence over the outcome. The best thing you can do is help her adjust. See her as often as possible, show her that life is still wonderful, and be absolutely firm about your status. If she continues to burst into tears every time you drop her off at Mom’s, please consider counselling for her.
Dear Annie: A woman who works with my husband has begun to send overly friendly emails to him. He also tells me she has been making passes at him at work.
My husband has tried to deal with the situation, and I trust him completely, but she continues to act inappropriately. I will be attending a company function with my husband soon, and this woman will be there. What can I say to her to let her know I’m aware of what’s going on? I don’t want to make a scene. — Ticked-Off Wife
Dear Ticked Off: You should politely ignore her. Ending this situation is your husband’s responsibility.
He must make it abundantly clear to this woman that he is not interested, that he has informed you of the situation, that he would like her to cease and desist all such overtures, and that if she doesn’t, he will report her to her superiors.
If he refuses to do this, you have an entirely different problem.
Dear Annie: Regarding “Nervous Nick,” whose wife stopped smoking a year ago and is now using nicotine gum — talk to her!
I am on oxygen 24/7. I stopped smoking two years ago, and it is still hard to resist the urge for a cigarette. My lung function is 25 per cent, but even right now, I would enjoy a smoke. You can’t imagine how difficult it is for some of us to quit.
It is a constant battle, so please talk to her, praise her for quitting, but don’t overdo it.
I wish the truth could be told about emphysema. It is a slow, agonizing death. At first, breathing is shallow, and then it gets worse and you become weaker and weaker.
I can only walk about 10 feet, and a gallon of milk is too heavy to carry. I can dress myself, but am not strong enough to take a shower.
In spite of this, I had two cigarettes in the last year. I am so ashamed. God gave me a strong, beautiful body, and I destroyed it. — Granny in Southern California
Dear Granny: Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, and your letter proves how difficult it is to overcome. We’ll be thinking of 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 email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.