Dear Annie: This past summer, my 19-year-old daughter, "Joy," was arrested for murder. There is no question that she did it.
Four years ago, Joy moved out of my house and went to live with my ex-husband and his wife. In those four years, Joy quit school, was in and out of trouble, and became pregnant. My ex and his wife now have custody of our 3-year-old granddaughter, and I must say, they are doing a wonderful job raising her.
Even though Joy always was a handful, we did our best to bring her up right and sought professional help all along the way. It just never did any good. I'm trying to come to terms with what my daughter has done, but I can't find any support groups for parents whose children have committed heinous crimes. There are lots of victims' groups, but none that address the grief and despair of the families of the perpetrators.
What do I say when people ask me how my daughter is doing? Feeling Alone
Dear Alone: Society is quick to blame the parents when a child commits a crime, even when parents have done everything possible to provide a loving, decent home life. You do not have to convey any information about Joy's current status unless you want to. You need only say, "Joy is fine, thanks."
We are not aware of any support group, but counseling is always a good idea when faced with such anguish. Ask your doctor or clergyperson to refer you to someone.
Dear Annie: My mother raised five children by herself and is used to cooking in huge volumes. We eat dinner at her home once a week, and she always cooks two or three times more than what we actually need, and then saddles us with the leftovers. We neither want nor need this extra food.
Mom is from the old country and thinks that the way others view her cooking is a reflection on her. If we told her not to give us the leftovers, she would be deeply insulted. Your opinion? Sick of the Leftovers
Dear Leftovers: If you cannot tell Mom that you won't eat the leftovers, simply thank her and then toss them in your freezer or in the garbage. Food pantries don't generally accept home-cooked leftovers, but if you pass any homeless people on the street, they surely would be thrilled to receive such a meal.
Dear Annie: You printed a letter about a couple who planned a vacation with friends, but the wife is upset about leaving on her daughter's 10th birthday, even though the girl had a party the weekend before. Dad said the daughter "is already mad at us for going on this trip without her." This girl is a spoiled brat.
How many dollars did those parents lavish on this girl in an attempt to pacify her? You suggested they join their friends on vacation the following day. I say "baloney!" I believe a little old hairbrush in the right spot might help out here. That man should tell his daughter to stop whining and let his wife know he'll go without her. I have been married for 63 years and would never put up with that. Wisconsin
Dear Wisconsin: Our advice wasn't intended to placate the daughter. It was to alleviate the mother's anxiety. If leaving one day later solves the problem, it seems more sensible than telling Dad to push his weight around. But thanks for your opinion.
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