Dear Annie: My brother's 9-year-old daughter, "Carrie," has a habit of exaggerating and stretching the truth. She's made up nasty rumors about members of our family several times. Carrie knows exactly what the sensitive topics are and how to strike a nerve. I've held my tongue before, but this time it's too much.
Carrie told her dad that my daughter pushed her on purpose and cursed at her. There were several other people present, and they all say nothing of the kind occurred. My daughter loves her cousin and would never hurt her.
My brother, of course, listened to Carrie, decided she was telling the truth and proceeded to confront my 12-year-old daughter without my knowledge. I feel this was totally inappropriate. Worse, I know this isn't an isolated event. It surely will happen again.
How can I convince my brother that his daughter is a liar? Anytown, USA
Dear Anytown: Don't try. Even if he believes you, he will defend his daughter and your efforts will produce nothing but anger. In time, he will learn that her word is meaningless, but the damage will have been done. Meanwhile, make it clear that under no circumstances is he allowed to confront your daughter. If the girls have a problem, he should speak to you.
While many children tell small lies in order to get out of trouble or gain rewards, Carrie seems to do this for sport. We feel sorry for her -- she must be emotionally needy and desperate for attention. Her parents do her no favor by not addressing this. A child who lies continually and viciously is shunned by everyone.
Dear Annie: Our 4-year-old daughter's name is Arielle, with the accent on the last syllable, but a lot of people rename her Ariel, with the accent on the first syllable, like "The Little Mermaid." If we wanted her to be called Ariel, we would have named her that.
When I enrolled Arielle in preschool, I wrote the correct pronunciation on her registration card, but both teachers insist on calling her Ariel. I corrected them, nicely, but they became very defensive and said the name was too unusual to remember. However, the teachers don't seem to have any problem remembering the unusual names of other children.
As a result of this constant mispronunciation, the children in my daughter's class call her Ariel. Arielle is shy and won't correct them. Should I intentionally mispronounce the teachers' names, hoping they will get the message? Should I tell Arielle not to respond when someone calls her Ariel? Tired of The Little Mermaid
Dear Tired: Unusual names often are mispronounced by teachers, but there is no excuse for them to keep doing it after you have called it to their attention. Ask them once more, very politely, to please take the time to call Arielle by her correct name. If they refuse, talk to the principal.
Keep in mind, this problem may occur every time Arielle has a new teacher, so show her how to correct someone politely. And when you approach these new teachers, be as sweet and charming as possible, and they will be more inclined to cooperate in return.
Dear Annie: Sorry, but you blew it with your response to "Senior Year," who didn't want to invite Grandma to his high school graduation. He has every right to invite only the people who love him. For years, I put up with my father's negative and uncaring family. When I was old enough, I eliminated all contact with them and have been far happier. Don't Stand on Ceremony in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Dear Thousand Oaks: When "Senior Year" is older, he may decide to do the same. Right now, he is barely 18, and Mom and Dad would like Granny included. There is something to be said for preserving family harmony for your parents' sake.
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