Dear Annie: I am 19 years old and seem to be getting pulled in different directions.
I have been a good daughter, making my parents proud with great academics and strong morals. My family has always depended on me to be a role model for my younger relatives.
I have been dating “Derek” since my sophomore year in high school. He is a terrific guy with similar academics and morals. My whole family loves him. Here’s the problem: When I first started seeing Derek, my parents got into a huge fight with his parents, and it has been awkward ever since. Immediately after the fight, I was not allowed to go to Derek’s house, and I obeyed. I am a college student now, and they still forbid me from going to his home.
I believe this should be my decision. I think my parents need to realize my relationship with Derek is not about them, and they should get over whatever hard feelings exist. The more they try to hold me back, the more I see myself growing apart from them. What should I do? — Lost in America
Dear Lost: You are old enough to make these decisions yourself, and as an upstanding, responsible college student, your parents should trust your choices. If you intend to make this relationship permanent, not only will you need to spend time with Derek’s family, it would be in your parents’ best interests to find a way to let bygones be bygones. You might point this out to them.
Dear Annie: My husband’s “Aunt Bess and Uncle Joe” own a summer home and asked my husband, a licensed builder, to help with drywall. Uncle Joe said, “I’ll pay you” and, when the work was finished, told my husband to “send the bill.” He obviously was not serious on either count because when my husband sent them a bill for $70 for nearly three hours of work, both Bess and Joe became very upset. They believe relatives should work for free.
We were shocked at their reaction. My husband never charges for small simple jobs or for things unrelated to his profession. When he helps my family members, they are happy to pay, as his rate is reasonable and they feel confident in his work.
I called Aunt Bess and tried to take responsibility for the misunderstanding. My husband wrote a letter, saying he thought Uncle Joe was serious when he said to send the bill.
Now they are building an addition to their summer home and hired someone else.
My husband is a good man and doesn’t deserve to be treated this way. They don’t realize how much he loved, trusted and looked up to them. Were we wrong to send a bill? Is my husband obligated to work for free? — Confused
Dear Confused: Aunt Bess and Uncle Joe are wrong. They should have been more than willing to pay your husband whether he sent a bill or not, and his rate seems quite reasonable to us.
Be glad they hired someone else for the addition because they surely would have expected your husband to do it for free.
It’s terribly sad when family members allow such things to create estrangements. Try to forgive them for being so cheap and petty, and if you can pretend the matter never happened, it may be possible to start over.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Ignored in Virginia,” who was upset that a shopkeeper filled a major phone order instead of continuing to show her around so she could “have items of interest pointed out.”
My husband owns a retail business. “Virginia” says she was a customer. Wrong. A customer comes to buy something.
The store owner was polite. She apologized and excused herself to fulfill a previous order. Should she have lost a major client to amuse a looky-loo who had no intention of buying? It might have made the difference between having a business or not. — Store Owner’s Wife
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, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.