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August 30, 2000


Wedding Guests, Asking Him Out, Piano Lessons, and Sneaking Out


Dear Mrs. Web,

I am a sophomore this year. I have been staying with my father this summer. I have mostly lived with him as I have been growing up. He has kept a pretty loose life and has had a lot of different girlfriends, some who have lived with us, and two that I have close relationships with. I am getting married and want to invite my fatherís some of my fatherís old girlfriends to the wedding. His new girlfriend, who is almost my age, is really upset. My father hasnít said  much. Do you think I should?

It is your wedding. You should invite whomever you want. The people who are important to have at a wedding are ones who have been important in your life and will support and celebrate the day. Of course, you would never invite the ex-girlfriends to stick it to somebody, would you?



Dear Mrs. Web,


I have known this guy for three years now and I would like to be more  than friends with him. I want to know is it bad for a girl to ask a guy  out on a date? 


I do not think it is "bad" to ask a guy out on a date. I do think, however, that girls need to do it differently. Not picking him up for dinner and a film. 


Instead, pick things that emphasize your feminine traits. For example: " I have two tickets to the fair and wondered whether you would like to go and have a picnic lunch...." or...Packing a picnic lunch and going to a soccer or football game, or "a group of us are going to help cut and stack wood for Widow Smith. If I bring lunch would you bring your axe.?"  


Pick active things: games, carnivals, bike trips and hikes, beach trips.... Add another couple if you know they will be equally active, interesting, and not obsessed with each other. Good luck!



Dear Mrs. Web,


My son has taken five years of piano lessons. He is thirteen and wants to stop. His teacher says he has great promise and urges us to continue to push through this yearlong reluctance. Practices have become intolerable and it is affecting our relationship with him. We donít know what to do.


Your son has been telling you for a year that he wants to stop. Sounds clear to me. Sometimes talented people need a change of teachers. Therefore, why donít you negotiate a year off with a promise he will try next year with a different teacher? When something good has gone bad, one needs some time away from it.



Dear Mrs. Web,


My sister is sneaking out of the house at night to meet her boyfriend. She is fifteen and he is a lot older. She sneaks back in every morning and threatens to kill me if I tell Mom and Dad. I am scared. Should I tell them anyhow?


Yes. Moreover, ask for protection from her. No fifteen-year-old should be out at night with a man. Your parents need to know this information to help protect her.




August 29, 2000


Beach House Woes, Sneaking Drinks at 14, Nasty Neat, When One Doesn't Know WHAT to Say


Dear Mrs. Web,

We are supposed to share a house at the beach this week with two other couples. We are spending a lot of money and we just found out that one of the other couples is bringing their two children (his ex-wife dropped them off with no explanations) although it was agreed in advance that this was to be a no children week. We are upset and want out.

If the world were fair your friends would bow out of the agreement and take the kids to Camp Kiddeeland for the week. The world is not fair, the kids were dumped, and nobody is happy. So act like adults, get over it and figure out how to make it work.

Dear Mrs. Web,

My brother is sneaking beer every day. He is fourteen. By the time Mom and Dad get home, my brother is in bed sleeping it off. I am getting worried. He drank a little bit at school last year but nothing like this summer. Should I tell?

Yes. Some people have a problem handling alcohol right from their first drink. They just taste it and cannot stop. He needs treatment, AA, and a supportive family. Talk to your parents. Let me know how things go.

Dear Mrs. Web,

The woman I am seeing is very neat. Everything in her apartment is in order and immaculate. She immediately washes the dishes after we eat. She doesnít relax when any thing is out of place. She is intelligent, witty and a good conversationalist. However, she straightening my clothing, sews on my buttons, clips hanging threads, and generally neatens me up too. I have been polite but I like it less and less. I am not sure what to think.

Some people lean towards obsessions and compulsions. A rigidity of this nature can be difficult in a relationship. If you are less than neat, she is more than neat, and there is no ability to compromise, you are headed for trouble.

Dear Mrs. Web,

My best friend since childhood has just decided to join a Catholic convent, not only a convent but a cloistered convent. She has knocked about a bit and has a terrific job in her profession. We are all shocked. I donít know what is wrong with her that she would make such a decision. She is attractive, intelligent, well-educated and generally wonderful. She had been taking a "retreat" every once in a while but none of us ever suspected it had gone this far. I donít even know how to respond.

With grace and good wishes? As far as I can tell, people who have religious vocations do not suddenly grow two heads. They have a calling that other people donít hear. Respect and reticence is needed here.




August 28, 2000


Child Molesters, Late-Talking Children, A Visit From Mother, and It's Lonely at the Top



Dear Mrs. Web,

I am a board member of a small non-profit that works with children and families. Recently the board was approached with the resume of an ex-convict who wants to work with the children. He was imprisoned for pedophilia (child molesting), but says that he no longer has that problem. Some people on the board are actively considering this applicant. I am concerned.

Sometimes people have minds so open their brains fall out! You do not let an ex-con pedophiliac into any child or family related organization. The payback that is exacted for pedophilia is not only prison time, but also the offender is never to be trusted with children. Period. You wouldnít hire an ex-con jewel thief to guard the Tiffany vault. You donít have an innocence-stealer care for children. He has a weakness and the children must be protected.

In your shoes I would stand firm. If the board decides to use him, I would immediately resign and call a press conference. The clients of your organization have a right to know, and so do your donors and the public.

Dear Mrs. Web,

My little girl is not talking yet. She is two and still mostly gestures to get what she wants. Her hearing has been tested and so has her sight. Our family doctor is beginning to talk about autism. We are devastated. She seems normal in most ways except she really likes numbers and already understands addition and subtraction. She doesnít play that much with her peers.

Two-year-olds do not usually play much with their peers. Developmentally, they are too self-centered. Could be autism butÖ It is unusual to have such well-developed understanding of math at her age.  Are there mathematicians, accountants, software developers, engineers, or physicists in your family? There seems to be a late-talking syndrome associated with mathematical giftedness. I would recommend reading Late-Talking Children by Thomas Sowell.

Dear Mrs. Web,

My mother wants to come visit us here at the ranch. She is in-between husbands. She is a smoking and hard drinking woman. We have always have had a rough time getting along. I married a minister and together we pastor a small country church. We have five young children and we are raising them a bit more sheltered than I was raised. How do I cope with my mother?

You tell her your ground rules about alcohol, smoking, or language. You stick by them. You arrange an off-premise stay if it is too difficult for you to have her in your home. Meet her in neutral spots like restaurants, parks, and picnics. Remember she will find you just as hard to take as you find her.

Dear Mrs. Web,

The plant manager at our facility died. There are three or four supervisors vying for the position. I was asked whether I would be interested in one of their supervisory positions by the company president. So I am pretty sure I know who is the new plant manager pick. I am dying to tell someone. This is a small town. Who can I tell?

No one. One of the reasons it is lonely at the top is that there is no one with whom to share the juicy tidbits. If you are really suffering you can tell Dear Mrs. Web and I will keep your secret.


August 25, 2000


Boyfriends and Money, More Gifts?  Safe Childcare, Grieving Friend, and Neglected Little Boys


Dear Mrs. Web,

My boyfriend has asked me whether I would want to invest in his business. My 401K has good chunk in it and I am tempted to give it to him.  Should I?

No. Your retirement fund is for your future. This guy is just a boyfriend; you donít even have a future with him. Do not mix business with pleasure. The investor gets hurt.

Dear Mrs. Web,

A good friend of mine has two daughters. Both were married in the past two years. They are nice girls although I do not know them very well. I was invited to each of their showers and to the weddings. They are both now pregnant and I just received a cute double shower invitation. These women have yet to acknowledge the four gifts I have already given them. I am reluctant to again spring for more gifts.

There is no law requiring you to respond affirmatively to every invitation you receive. Send each a card and your good wishes.

Dear Mrs. Web,

My daughter begins school next week with other children in the neighborhood. I am planning to take her to her first day of first grade. I usually will be leaving for work before she does in the morning. I have asked a neighbor to watch her, for pay, until it is time to leave for school. I would walk her over to the neighbor's house and then leave for work. This neighbor has overnight male guests at times. I am having second thoughts about having my daughter stay there.

Do not leave your daughter there. It is not safe. Unknown, unattached men make this house the last place a little girl should be left. Canvass the neighborhood and find an alternative. Also, try her classmateís parents.

Dear Mrs. Web,

My friend lost her faith when her brother died. She now speaks disparagingly about my beliefs and I donít know how to respond.

You can stand firm with understanding and compassion. Explain to her that your beliefs are a part of you and deserve to be treated respectfully.  

Dear Mrs. Web,

I work with a woman named Sandy. She is unmarried with two boys, ages 8 and 10. Last weekend she apparently left the two home alone when she went away with her "friend". I am heartsick. What can I do?

Pick up the telephone, call your Local Department of Child Welfare, and report her. Do it now. Sandy is seriously neglecting and endangering her children. Children need parents who are there Ė 24/7.



August 23, 2000


Grieving Widow, Bribe Money, Husband-Hunter, and Religious Convictions


Dear Mrs Web,

My uncle died last week. At the funeral reception his wife, our aunt, told a number of people that it was too bad euthanasia was illegal because Uncle Scott would not have had to hang on so long. She said he would have wanted to die quickly and not have the end prolonged although he was in no pain. We were abashed at her statements.

Give the woman some grace and assume she was not thinking clearly in her grief.

Dear Mrs. Web,

My father never married my mother. He had little to no contact with me while I was growing up. Last month, unexpectedly, he called me and arranged to take me, my wife and the baby out to dinner. He lives on the opposite side of the country. At dinner he showed us pictures of his homes and cars and talked about his businesses. He is wealthy and wanted to make sure I understood that if I played my cards right with him, much of it could be mine. I was repelled by his presentation. We are financially comfortable. I want to tell him to stuff his pictures where theÖ but I hesitate. I wonder whether I should go along with him so our children would reap the benefits of his inheritance.

Examples of good character are far more precious that greenback dollars in helping children develop the emotional and character tools for life. What you were offered seemed skuzzy and demeaning to you. You would essentially be holding your nose as you hold out your hand.  Why would you want your children to learn that?

Dear Mrs. Web,

I need to find a husband. I have been looking for a few years and I never get past the three-date stage. I donít know what I am doing wrong. All I have ever dreamed about is having a husband, home, and children.

Why donít you stop looking for a husband and start living your life? If you werenít concentrating so hard on what you wanted and your needs, perhaps there would be room for someone else. Step out of your neediness and begin living a full life. It will also go a long way to dissipate that smell of desperation.

Dear Mrs. Web,

My sister and her husband have joined a church that encourages its members to consider any non-members, family included, to be outsiders. This church has discouraged my sister from spending time with us by their rules about holidays and celebrations. They do not participate. We do see them occasionally but we seem to be losing them. We feel ignored and a bit angry by the exclusion.

Your sister and her family have made their choice about how they choose to worship. You can feel snubbed and wounded about their choice or you can realize they took a path that has different rules. You donít have to lose them.  Talk with them to come up with alternatives.


August 22, 2000


Bit by His Brother, He Dumped Me, My  Friends Take Heroin, and The Neighbor

Dear Mrs. Web,

I saw this guy for about six months; he was just so wonderful. Then he dropped me to go out with my best friend. They are still together and she is trying to be my friend again. I donít want anything to do with her. But the rest of the kids we hang around with tell me to get over it.

Men and women who date each other owe each other honesty about their expectations and goals of their relationship. They, however, do not owe each other fidelity. Fidelity comes with the deeper commitment of marriage, not the wandering eyes of dating. So your may be sad the relationship did not work out but I agree with your friends, you were just dating.

Dear Mrs Web,

I was the executor of my parentís estate. I have one brother, John, who provided the bulk of the care to our difficult and demanding parents. He even sold his house (admittedly he and his family were deeply in debt) and moved into our parents three family. After the final funeral, four years ago, our siblings wanted to divide the estate evenly and sell the apartment building. Because of his familyís selflessness I worked hard to convince my brother and sisters that John deserved the house. We all walked away with a pittance but felt that things were even. Last month my wife and family were invited to a weekend get together and informal class reunion back in my hometown. I called John and found out that his family lived on one floor of the building and the rest was essentially empty. I asked whether our family could camp in one of the apartments because finances were tight, and he said he would talk to his wife and call me back. He called back the next day and said their two dogs would be on the second floor and our presence in the building would disturb them. He said his family would be gone that weekend and he was sorry that he would miss us. We cannot go without having a place to stay.  I feel hurt and angry.

Sounds like your brother doesnít want you to disturb their dogs. I would assume that gratitude and openheartedness are not qualities found in abundance in this sibling. It is a sad fact of human nature that people tend to turn on their benefactors. I am sorry to say: you were just bit.

Dear Mrs. Web,

The people I hang out with are starting to do heroin. I am panicked. I am so afraid of it. I donít know what to do.

You say no. You extricate yourself from this group of people and run as far away from them as possible. You find other, safer people to spend time with. You get advice and assistance from your parents, your family, your local church, or a counselor. Do not sit there like a rabbit in the headlights, instead, take control.

Dear Mrs. Web,

The lady next door has been putting the moves on my brother. He is nineteen and she is thirty-eight and married. She just told him she is pregnant and it is his child. He is supposed to go back to school next week.

It appears that not only did your neighbor put "the moves" on your brother, but he also "moved" back. This is something that your brother, your neighbor, her husband, and your parents are going to have to sort out.


August 21, 2000


Wandering Hands, Nasty Son, Adoption, and Lawyer Jokes


Dear Mrs. Web,

My Uncle Johnny has wandering hands. We three sisters have always been aware of this problem. Now we are in our teens and Uncle Johnny has bought a boat. He has been begging us to go out with him all summer. We have been avoiding him and now our parents are almost insisting we go. None of us want to be on the boat with him. What do we do? We canít tell our parents what is going on. They would just die.

Of course, you tell your parents what is going on. I assure you, your parents can manage the information. They need it to protect you. Uncle or not, heís a lecher and needs to be confronted by adults and avoided by young women.

Dear Mrs. Web,

Our five children are all grown up and on their own. Three are settled married and have children; one is still trying to find her place in the world. Then there is "George", our second child. George is almost thirty-five. He has an undergraduate degree and two advanced degrees. George has been mad at us for years. He rarely comes to family events; he even missed his grandparentsí funerals. He has always blamed us for everything wrong in his life. My husband, who worked thirty-eight years to provide security and a good life for us, is considered by George to be beyond contempt. I am considered to be a drudge and to be pitied. He mocks our faith, our values, and our beliefs. We have offered to go for counseling with him and have tried to keep our minds and hearts open to him. He came over here the other evening for supper and again ended up yelling at us and storming out of the house. We donít know what we can do.

You are the parents of an offensive little twit. Most of them grow out of it by their first graduate degree. What you can do is sit the little sweetheart down and give him some ground rules. Tell him you love him butÖ In addition, be clear about the kind of behavior you are expecting from him. Words that come to mind include respectful, kind, and considerate. Tell him he is only welcome if he stays in bounds. If he doesnít comply, show him the door.

Dear Mrs. Web,

My mother wants me to give my baby up for adoption. My father even agrees with her. I want to get my own apartment and keep him or her. I think I will do ok. I can stay in school and then get some training. I think a baby needs its real mother.

I am an adoptive mother and the "real" mother of my adoptive children. I have watched many adoptions and one thing really stands out. Birth moms need to put the best interests of the baby first, not her own needs. A baby needs two totally committed parents, not a teenager who wants her own apartment, courtesy of the state. 

I have never seen any negative situation made better by a baby. Furthermore, the baby is usually the one to suffer the most. I hope you find the courage to find a good home for your little one. Because it takes guts to do something that hurts but is so right.

Dear Mrs. Web,

I am dating a really nice man. He is an associate at a law firm in the same building I have my job. We have been seeing each other for a while. He has met my family and is spending quite a bit of his spare time with us. My father is a retired MD. EVERY time my friend comes over to our house, my father cannot wait to get out his newest lawyer joke. Mrs. Web, some of them are awful. I have talked to my father but he just laughs and says heís just kidding. He is a great kidder with the rest of the family but sometimes I think he is out to get Jason. How can I stop my father from continuing this joking?

Doctors and lawyers seem to be natural enemies. However, your friend deserves the respect and benefit of the doubt that one fellow human gives another (putting aside all the jokes about the inhumanity of lawyers).  You are perfectly within your rights to demand your father to cease his jokes.  

August 18, 2000

Teen Music, Self-Centered Supervisor, Privacy, and Worried Friend


Dear Mrs. Web,

I have a ten-year-old daughter who is beginning to follow rock and roll music groups and singers. I listened to one of the CDs recently and was not happy with the tunes or the lyrics. I canít take the music away from her; all her friends listen to them too. What should I do to minimize this kind of thing in our home?

Well, it is your home and you can make the rules you think your family needs. You can also keep out as much or as little of the current culture as you wish. You can permit or refuse your daughter anything the popular culture gives out, friends or no friends. 

However, what you need to remember is to replace what you take away with something else. If you take away her peer group music, replace with different, more acceptable music, or interesting acceptable films. Always explain and help your child evaluate with your familyís values and beliefs. 

When these issues come up one should evaluate whether the peer group your daughter is involved with is one that is acceptable to you. Or just the easiest.

Dear Mrs. Web,

I work with a man who is self centered and conceited. He is also the department supervisor. He only talks about himself and never listens to anyone else. Since he is such a witty speaker, at first people are spellbound by his conversations. It begins to wear thin. He corners anyone and drones on for hours if allowed. How can we stop him?

I donít know if anyone can stop a crashing bore, but you can certainly avoid and redirect him. When he comes in to chat, plead lack of time, a backlog of work, or the fact that his supervisor was just on the floor. One can always excuse oneself to "go down the hall". The object is to quietly and politely avoid him.

Dear Mrs. Web,

My father is moving in with my nine-year-old son and me. Dad recently had a stroke and is now partially disabled. Dad will need some help around the house and it will be great to have him there when my son comes home from school. My son loves Dad but is upset that he has had to move out of his room to a corner of the living room. We just donít have anymore space.

How wonderful it is that your son be able to spend more time with your father. Your son may be happier if you can give him a corner in the apartment that is his own. It may not be where his bed is but a place where he can have a beanbag chair and be away from the rest of you.

Dear Mrs. Web,

My best friend has gone off the deep end over a boy she met. She is fourteen and he is fifteen and they are really, really involved. They are planning a great weekend away at his parentís camp. He is going to steal the key and she is getting a girlfriend to lie and say she is spending the weekend at her house. They found a big kid who drives to take them there and pick them up. It is all she talks about. They will be drinking; this guy drinks a lot. All our friends think is sooo romantic. I am worried. Ever since she met this guy, she isnít any fun anymore. We used to talk about books and music and have fun but now she seems so shallow. I think her mother should know but I donít want to do it. She would never talk to me again.

Lying, stealing, breaking in, illegal drinking, and the possibility of disease or pregnancy are serious issues. Your friend is not thinking clearly. Her mother needs to be notified. Some things are bigger than friendship. Talk to her mother.  Sometimes being a true friend involves saving someone's neck even when they put the noose on themselves.




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