ANNIE'S MAILBOX Make the family effort despite opinions
Dear Annie: I am a sophomore in college and have been dating "Andrew" for nearly six months. He lives with his father and stepfamily. There are several legal problems involving abuse in Andrew's family. Social Services visits their house often to check up on things. Along with that, his family has no sense of financial responsibility, and much of the burden falls on Andrew. Bills have been placed in his name because the adults in this household have not paid them.
Andrew cannot currently afford to move out. All his money goes toward college tuition and car payments. His father helps with nothing. His mother, who lives in another state, tries her best but cannot afford much.
I know and adore Andrew's mother, but I cannot bear to be around his father and stepmother. I do not approve of how they do anything in their house, because I feel it endangers the young children who reside there. I rarely visit them, and apparently, they have noticed. They told Andrew I needed to be more "friendly."
I care very much for Andrew, but why do I have any obligations to his family? He feels I should "make nice" so as not to cause any problems. What do you think? Reluctant Girlfriend
Dear Reluctant: Is this relationship serious? If so, you must find a way to get along with Andrew's family, whether or not you approve of them. He obviously wants to remain close to his father. Social Services is handling the abuse issue, which means you can choose to be a stabilizing influence in the family or a source of stress. You don't have to like these people, but you can be polite and civil, and show Andrew that you care enough about him to make the effort.
Dear Annie: Last month, my nephew, who is a rabbi, sent me an e-mail announcing that his 19-year-old daughter is getting married, and he asked for the addresses of my children. I gladly obliged.
Yesterday, an invitation came to my house addressed to my daughter -- not her husband. My son-in-law is not Jewish, and therefore, my daughter was invited alone. Furthermore, she has been married for 10 years and does not live at my house.
How archaic and intolerant can people be? Needless to say, I won't be attending, even though I am the only aunt left on that side of the family, and incidentally, I am my nephew's godmother as well. What is your opinion? Disgusted with Religion
Dear Disgusted: Someone who is deeply observant would not recognize a marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew. However, Jewish law certainly allows you to invite a non-Jew to a wedding or any other event, and in fact, requires that people treat one another with respect, and not intentionally insult them or cause hurt feelings.
Your nephew's attitude does not reflect his religion, only his personal need to let you know he still disapproves of your daughter's marriage. You were right to decline, but we hope you will not penalize the newlyweds for Dad's unkind gesture.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Konfused in Kansas," whose son had his eyebrow shaved off as a practical joke. As a family doctor, I would just like to point out that eyebrow shaving is a lousy idea of a prank. We were taught in our medical training never to shave off eyebrows when repairing lacerations, because they do not always grow back. If guys feel compelled to do something stupid while their buddy is sleeping, make it artwork that can be washed off (and laughed off) in the morning, please. Pragmatic in Pennsylvania
Dear Pragmatic: As women who have tweezed eyebrows into oblivion, we know they do not always grow back. We're not sure guys will try creating a Picasso instead, but thanks for the suggestion.