Dear Annie: Last year, my 16-year-old daughter had a bout of depression and anxiety and didn’t handle herself well.
As a result, she has been shunned by the friends she’s had since 7th grade.
“Lauren” has tried to make amends by apologizing, but these girls want nothing to do with her. Through therapy, Lauren realizes she is reaping what she has sown, but several of the girls are just plain mean. With my encouragement, Lauren asked for a mediation session to try to get one of the girls to back down from the nasty comments. Unfortunately, the rest of the girls thought Lauren chose to bring one of them down, so now it’s payback time.
The bullying is exhausting for Lauren to endure, and she no longer wants to go to school. I spoke with the principal, a social worker and the teacher whose class is the worst. They all agree it is a difficult problem because it’s quite likely that if the girls are admonished, the bullying will increase. And they are probably right.
Lauren is a beautiful, smart girl. What am I supposed to do? We are told to speak up if a child is being bullied, but what about the backlash? The school feels its hands are tied. Lauren is back in therapy so she can learn how to cope with these mean girls. Any thoughts? — Frustrated Mom
Dear Mom: Even if Lauren deserved her classmates’ scorn, she does not deserve to be bullied.
The school is abdicating its responsibility by shrugging its shoulders and doing nothing. Encourage Lauren to find other friends who will value the person she is now, and look into extracurricular activities that will allow her to meet kids outside of school.
The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services has an anti-bullying website (stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov) that offers suggestions. If your daughter continues to struggle, however, and the school refuses to help, it might be time to switch schools so she can start fresh. Your daughter’s well-being comes first.
Dear Annie: “Bruce” and I have known each other for six years, although we only started dating a few months ago. We plan to marry next year.
The problem is, he always has to contradict what I say and makes it seem like I’m never right. He also doesn’t like my dog. He says if it starts yapping at him, he’s going to kick it across the room.
I’ve tried talking to him about this, and sometimes I get so upset that I cry.
Of course, then he says he hates to see me hurt. Why can’t he connect his words to my pain? He doesn’t seem to understand.
How do I get him to lay off the rude remarks without starting another fight? — Hurt in California
Dear California: You should not have to burst into tears to get your fiance to stop berating you. And frankly, any man who would kick your dog across the room should be avoided at all costs.
Couples counselling may help you work through this, but please think twice before making a lifetime commitment to this man.
Dear Annie: The wife described in “The Thrill is Gone” could be me. My husband is consumed with his job, and I do everything around the house. I love him, but when he has a spare five minutes, he expects me to drop everything and jump into bed.
There is more to intimacy than sex. “Thrill” needs to tell his wife how grateful he is for all she does for their family.
If he spent some time showing his appreciation instead of trying to fix her libido, he’d get a better response.
I would be ecstatic if my husband asked me to go for a walk, offered to make dinner or gave me a backrub without turning it into foreplay. I need to feel valued and treasured. Save the doctor money and use it for flowers. — In the Same Boat
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, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.