Saturday, February 19, 2005
Dear Annie: We have two children -- "Jan," our 34-year-old married daughter, and "Ben," age 38, who is engaged to "Iris."
Iris is a wonderful person, and we are so excited that our son finally has found someone to settle down with. The problem is that Iris calls us "Mom and Dad," and our daughter does not like this. She believes Iris is not entitled to call us by those titles because she is not family. Jan says Iris is being disrespectful.
Jan becomes enraged whenever we are together and she hears Iris refer to us as Mom and Dad. After one of those visits, Jan is on the phone the next day, ranting and raving about Iris. Ben thinks his sister is jealous and spoiled.
My husband and I are very flattered that our future daughter-in-law feels comfortable enough to call us "Mom and Dad," and we don't mind it one bit. In fact, we actually like it, but we worry that we are not being supportive of Jan if we let it continue.
This past holiday season was a nightmare because of Jan's sensitivity, and we don't know how to handle this without hurting anyone's feelings. My sister thinks if we side with Jan, we will alienate Iris and possibly Ben, without really helping our daughter. Sis says Jan needs to grow up. Any suggestions? We really need your advice. A Soon-to-Be Mom-in-Law
Dear Mom: We tend to agree with your sister. Jan sounds jealous and insecure, and you need to make it quite clear that she does not get to set the rules in your relationships. She may not like it, but being "supportive" does not mean caving in.
Since you like being called "Mom and Dad," and Iris is eager to do it, let her. She soon will be a member of the family and should be treated as a daughter. This will undoubtedly make Jan uneasy. She's been queen of the roost for 34 years. But try to reassure her of your love and convince her that she's not losing a brother, she is gaining a sister -- and someone who could turn out to be a best friend as well, if she will allow it.
Dear Annie: I am a very nervous passenger when I travel in an automobile, and I do not like to drive. My husband is a very good driver and has not had an accident. However, that does not make it any easier for me.
As I get older, it is getting worse. I am apprehensive from the time we pull out of the driveway until we return home. My husband has adjusted his driving to make me more comfortable, but it makes no difference. Listening to music over headphones doesn't help, and reading makes me carsick. I'd rather not take anything to make me sleep the entire time. Any suggestions? Doomed to Stay in the House
Dear Doomed: It sounds as if you have an anxiety disorder, and without treatment, you may get worse. Treatment involves therapy, medication (that won't knock you out), or a combination of the two. For information, contact Anxiety Disorders Association of America (www.adaa.org), 8730 Georgia Avenue, Suite 600, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
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