Dear Annie: My husband, "Vern," and I have been married for 21 years and have two teenage children. Vern was recently contacted by his now-adult son from his first marriage. "Jim" is 37. Jim wants to restart their relationship, although they have not had one for almost 25 years.
Jim lives six hours away. He has asked us to drive up to see him and meet his family. I am not interested in getting involved with this "new" family. I have never met Vern's ex-wife or the kids from his first marriage, and I have no desire to do so now. Our children aren't particularly interested in meeting their half-siblings, either. I told my husband to go visit Jim without me.
Vern doesn't understand or agree with my decision. Am I right to be uninvolved? How can I keep the peace with my husband and not be forced into something I don't want to do? California Stepmom
Dear California: If Jim intends to become a permanent fixture in Vern's life, you ought to get to know him and encourage your children to do the same. However, it is OK for this first visit to belong to Vern alone. He should have time to reacquaint himself with his son, without worrying about your reaction.
Tell Vern you want him and Jim to have an unencumbered visit together. Promise to go along next time, or offer to invite Jim and his family to your home. Please do this for your husband. It will be worth it.
Dear Annie: I was interested in the letter from "Modest in Westland, Mich.," who objected to the suggestive clothing preteen girls wear these days. I have a surefire way to get your kids to dress modestly: Adopt whatever style they're wearing for yourself.
Imagine Mom dressed in a cropped top and low-slung jeans. She doesn't actually have to wear it outside the house to get the effect. If the kids think you might actually be seen in such an outfit at the grocery store, it drives them nuts. Believe me, they will immediately look for something completely opposite to wear.
Right now, I'm going Goth, with dark eye makeup, a pair of really low black pants and a big studded belt, just like my 17-year-old daughter. She hates my outfit because now she doesn't want to wear hers. Sense of Style in the Midwest
Dear Sense of Style: You're a clever and courageous mother. Not many women would attempt your current look. Here's more on the subject:
Dear Annie: You might be interested in an article written by Tamara Dietrich that appeared in the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz. The piece addresses what the young women in our community did about those inappropriate clothes. It would be terrific if other young people and their parents followed their example.
A group of high school girls from Mesa Mountain View petitioned to demand more modest clothing from their local department stores. They managed to collect 1,500 signatures, including some from boys. It seems the girls were not crazy about being so exposed.
The reporter said the girls wanted something "alluring without being lurid," and urged store executives to "see them as more than the sum of their anatomy." Amazingly, the store executives promised to pay attention.
I think these students are wonderful. J.G., Mesa, Ariz.
Dear J.G.: We do, too. Let's hope they inspire other teens to make the same effort to push local stores into carrying decent, attractive clothing. Hats -- and nothing else -- off to them.
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