Dear Annie: I have an elderly father with a bunch of serious medical problems.
We’ve never had a close relationship.
I suspect he could pass away soon, and I would like to have some meaningful dialogues before that happens.
I also have a terrible secret I’d like to tell him before he dies.
Dad and I have an awful relationship.
He always yelled at me, and was extremely rude, boorish, critical, cranky, crabby, sarcastic and angry all the time, for simply no reason.
He was like this to my mom and sister, too.
Once, he threw me out of a slow-moving car.
He was a heavy drinker.
I’ve attempted suicide three times, and Dad refused to visit me in the hospital.
I’m still angry about this.
He no longer drinks heavily, but he still drinks, and I’m sure it interacts with all the medication he takes.
Thank goodness that he no longer drives.
Since his health problems started, Dad has changed for the better, but we still never talk to each other.
I’ve tried to have normal conversations with him, but it’s almost impossible.
How do I begin to tell him my terrible secret? — Scared Son in Sarasota, Fla.
Dear Scared Son: Since you and Dad have such a hard time communicating, it might help to bring in a third party to facilitate the initial conversation — perhaps an understanding relative, a mutual friend or clergyperson.
You can always start by telling him you care about him and worry about his health.
However, we have to wonder why you are so desperate to tell him a “terrible secret.”
It doesn’t sound as if you seek his counsel on the matter, only that you are trying to unburden yourself at his expense.
Examine your motives.
If telling Dad will bring him some peace of mind and make your relationship better, go ahead.
Otherwise, please discuss your secret with someone who can be of assistance or support.
Dear Annie: I am a 17-year-old junior in high school and get invited to various parties.
One girl, “Sarah,” likes to show R-rated, unrated or uncut movies.
Annie, I am extremely uncomfortable watching the content of these movies and have told Sarah.
I have no qualms about leaving the room when they’re playing.
She finds nothing wrong with these films and says she’s doing me a favour by making me watch them.
Annie, the synopses of some of these films make me physically ill.
I now avoid Sarah’s parties (and sometimes Sarah) so I won’t be pressured.
I refuse to lower my standards, but I am tired of Sarah jumping down my throat about it.
Is there anything I can do to get her to respect my choices? — Need Suggestions
Dear Need: Every crowd has one person who enjoys tormenting those who are easily flustered.
Just because you are old enough to watch R-rated films doesn’t mean you have to.
Instead of becoming upset with Sarah’s shenanigans, try being completely bored.
Sigh and say, “Thanks for your interest in my education.”
Smile. Walk away. She’ll tire of it eventually.
Dear Annie: I read “L.K.’s” response to “Baby Mama,” who wants to get pregnant. L.K. said having a baby at age 19 limits any further education.
I was 19 when I became pregnant with my first child.
It wasn’t planned, and I definitely didn’t want a permanent commitment to the father.
However, I made the best of a bad situation.
I went on to finish college and now have a BA in education and a teaching career.
I do agree that it is irresponsible to want a baby just because her friends have one.
And it’s true that finishing school was a struggle.
I would not suggest it to anyone else that age.
It does rob you of your youth.
However, if she works hard, she can still have a good education and a career. — Managed It
Dear Managed: Those who truly want an education can achieve that goal, with or without a child.
But we worry that young women like “Baby Mama” simply don’t see any further into their future than nine months.
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.