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Section: health-and-wellness, aging, children, relationships
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
I've read many letters in your column from children who wonder how to get elderly parents to quit driving. I need to tell you about my dad. On his 89th birthday, he was still driving and doing a good job of it. His request for his birthday was that I go with him for a ride and buy him a cup of coffee. We had a wonderful time together. When we arrived home, he handed me the car keys and said, "I've driven more than 70 years and have never had an accident, and now, it's time to quit." It was his birthday, but what a gift he gave to us. You can sign this letter -- Proud To Be Rudy's Daughter, Jamestown, N.Y.

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Section: Mental-health, sexuality, relationships, depression, gender
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
My husband has been clinically depressed for most of his adult life. A while back, "Herman" began seeing a female therapist who focused on my husband's early years to see whether something in his childhood might be the cause of his depression. His therapist discovered that during adolescence, Herman had been a cross-dresser. He apparently had worn women's clothing in his early teens but repressed it as an adult. Now Herman wants my permission to express this part of his personality around the house. He says he would not go out in public. This disgusts me, Ann. The thought of my husband in makeup, wig and high heels makes my skin crawl. His therapist told me I need to be more tolerant. She doesn't seem to think his behavior is abnormal or sick. Herman is artistic and sensitive, a gourmet cook and an avid sportsman. More importantly, he is a terrific father to our two sons. I used to think he was the most masculine man alive. Now I don't see how I ever can look at him the same way or stop wondering whether he is gay. I don't want to break up our marriage, but if anyone found out about the makeup, wigs and high heels, I would be devastated. I need your advice. -- N. Carolina

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Section: mental-health, children
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
My best friend is slitting her wrists. I know she doesn't want to end her life, but whenever she has a bad day at school or problems at home, she cuts herself. The last time she did this, I threatened to tell her parents, but she pleaded with me to keep quiet and promised she would never do it again. We are both 14. She is my best friend, and I want her to be happy and healthy. What can I do to help her? -- Just Me in Philadelphia

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Section: health-and-wellness, children
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
Too many people think it's OK to leave a child unattended in an automobile while they go into a gas station or post office for "just a minute." Whenever I am tempted to do this, I remember the day I brought my first-born child home from the hospital. My mother said, "Don't ever leave your child in your car anywhere you wouldn't leave $1 million cash on the seat." If you run this in your column, Ann, please use my name. It would be a wonderful tribute to my very wise mother, who passed away two years ago this Christmas. -- Vicki Villegas Westfall, Valley Springs, Calif.

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Section: addictions, mental-health, health-and-wellness, marriage
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
A few months ago, when I was recovering from surgery and in bed suffering post-operative pain, my sister, "Ellen," came by to see me. My husband, "Dan," who is a physician, happened to enter the room and saw Ellen take prescription drugs out of the box beside my bed and slip them into her pocket. Ellen looked up and realized he had seen her, even though I didn't notice a thing. Dan didn't want to alarm me, so he said nothing. He waited until Ellen went home and then telephoned her. She didn't say much, except that she had a very bad headache and needed medication. Ellen didn't know Dan had counted the capsules before her visit and knew she was lying about how many she had stolen. Later that evening, she phoned to apologize to Dan, but he wasn't home, so she talked to me and confessed that she had taken my pills. Ellen is an alcoholic and has been sober for approximately eight years. We are concerned about her health and safety. We also worry about her tendency to steal prescription drugs (as well as other things) from our home and possibly the homes of her friends. We are afraid she might start shoplifting and end up in jail. Dan and I don't feel comfortable discussing this with Ellen's husband, and she has always been very defensive, so it isn't easy to talk to her about personal problems. Please give us some guidance. -- Worried Sick in Newport Beach, Calif.

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Section: addictions, manners
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
Please tell me if I'm wrong. My wife's parents called last week and asked if they could stay in our extra bedroom for the night. They live in the suburbs. We get along well, so naturally, I said yes. My wife and I had been planning an evening out, and my in-laws offered to watch our daughter so we wouldn't have to hire a sitter. It seemed like a very convenient arrangement. Here's the problem. My in-laws smoke. They know we do not tolerate smoking in our home, especially now that we have a young child. When my wife and I returned from our evening out, it was obvious that my in-laws had been puffing up a storm. Also, there were ashes on the sofa where they had been sitting. I was furious. When we asked them about it, they became angry and started yelling that our rules were ridiculous, and that they should be allowed to smoke in our home if they want to. Then, they left in a snit and have threatened to cut all ties with us. My wife and I are not anti-smoking crusaders, Ann. We don't mind if friends or family members smoke, but we don't want them doing it in our house. I don't believe we are unreasonable, but apparently, they do. My wife loves her parents, and other than this issue, we get along just fine. I certainly don't want our daughter to grow up without her grandparents, but I am concerned about my child's health and do not want her around all that secondhand smoke. How can we repair this rupture and have a good relationship again without caving in on the smoking issue? -- The Son-in-Law

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Section: mental-health, children
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
I am planning to marry the love of my life in June. "Phillip" is a terrific guy except when it comes to my 12-year-old daughter, "Beth," who is very sweet but has attention deficit disorder. Phillip does not understand that she needs to be reminded of things over and over. When he asks her to do a chore, he expects her to jump to it immediately. He doesn't realize that Beth is easily distracted and forgets. She isn't being deliberately disobedient. I think Phillip is being too hard on Beth when he says she needs more discipline. I agree that Beth may resent Phillip's presence in my life, but it doesn't help when he yells at her all the time. I love him dearly, but I'm having second thoughts about what marrying him might do to my daughter. Help me make the right choice. -- Unsure in Baltimore

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Section: general-health, children, relationships
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
I am raising my 7-year-old granddaughter because her parents are divorced. I am concerned that the girl has an eating disorder. She eats no fruits or vegetables, and if I offer her something she doesn't like, she gags. I realize children can be fussy eaters, but the reason I suspect a serious problem is because the girl's mother eats exactly the same way. My ex-daughter-in-law eats only at fast-food restaurants and limits herself to chicken and fish (fried, of course). She told me she has NEVER eaten a piece of fruit or a vegetable in her entire life. This woman is 29 years old. Her mother and brothers eat like this, too. I'm at my wits' end to help my granddaughter eat a more healthy diet. When I try to force nutritious food on her, she throws up. I am worried about her health, Ann, and need some advice. -- Frustrated Grandma in Kentucky

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Section: addictions, money, children
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
I just got a phone call from my son. He said, "I've been arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute." I knew he had used marijuana on occasion, but I'm sure he never tried to sell it. A lawyer told me if someone is caught with marijuana, chances are the police will add "intent to distribute," even in the absence of supporting evidence. The accusation of intent changes the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony. Ann, my son is a good kid who attends college and has a part-time job. He didn't hurt anyone. He didn't steal anything. He didn't cheat anybody. He was caught with marijuana for his own personal use, and for this, he could get 30 years in prison. He has never gotten so much as a parking ticket. I don't approve of smoking grass, nor do I approve of smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. But this punishment seems excessive. I can't help but think of the thousands of families who have suffered this same horror. These harsh laws hurt us all. People who criminalize marijuana believe users are dangerous addicts in dark trench coats, lurking near playgrounds, ready to pounce on young children. I plead for compassion for those who are hurting only themselves when they use dangerous substances. What they need is counseling and medical intervention, not prison. Harsh laws don't work. Furthermore, it costs us a fortune in taxes to prosecute and incarcerate people who pose no danger to society. Enough. -- A Sad Mother in Va.

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Section: sexuality, children, relationships
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
Our 16-year-old son recently admitted that he is having sex with his girlfriend, "Evie." It's not as if we have never discussed sex. We have had long talks with him about it and discouraged premarital intimacy. He seemed to understand the dangers, but apparently, that didn't stop him. Evie's parents are divorced, but we are friends with both of them. I think the girl should tell her parents that she is having sex so they can advise her and help her choose an appropriate method of birth control. Our son says he is using condoms, but I know they are not always 100 percent reliable. Both of these kids want to go to college, and we are concerned that an unplanned pregnancy could destroy their lives. I don't know how to get Evie to tell her parents. Her mother is a very understanding woman, so this ought not be a problem. Should I let my son know that if Evie doesn't tell her folks, I will? My husband says it is none of our business, but I say what happens to our teenage son definitely IS our business. Please advise me. -- Upset in Cape Coral, Fla.

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"At every party there are two kinds of people - those who want to go home and those who don't. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other."
-Ann Landers