Don’t Let Child Divide, Conquer

Dear Ann Landers: My husband and I have been married for five years. John has an 11-year-old daughter from his previous marriage. I started dating John when “Mandy” was 2. My stepdaughter and I have always had a good relationship.

The problem is John’s ex-wife. She demands to know from their daughter everything that goes on in our house. I mean everything. For example, how much money I make and how much money we have in the bank. I have caught Mandy looking at my bills, paychecks and personal correspondence. She once told us that when she was younger, her mother demanded to know how we got along together, if we ever fought, if there was much drinking and so forth. If the girl didn’t respond, she would get into trouble.

John says he doesn’t see this as a problem. Well, I do, and it is having a very damaging effect on our marriage. We went for counseling, and the therapist told John that he needs to keep his daughter out of our business. I told John that he should visit with Mandy outside of our home. He refuses. What now? - A Desperate Woman

Dear Woman: If you have gone for counseling and John refuses to listen to the counselor, I doubt that he will pay any attention to what I say.

It is obvious that his daughter is trying to “divide and conquer,” and the old maneuver is working quite well. Don’t let that little 11-year-old push you to the point where you tell John he must choose between Mandy and you. You would undoubtedly lose. Hang in there, and do not take the bait. Remember you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Dear Ann Landers: You have written about loony judges and some of their off-the-wall decisions. Thank you. People need to have their eyes opened and you have certainly done it. They also need to take note of some of the decisions made by juries. They can be pretty loony, too.

For example: Two young men in Iowa admitted breaking into an animal shelter at night and beating to death 16 cats with baseball bats. Seven additional cats were injured but survived.

The jury, after two hours of deliberation, concluded that the cats were worth no more than $31.25 apiece. Because the total value of the cats did not exceed $500, this ruled out a felony conviction for which each perpetrator could have received a $15,000 fine and 10 years behind bars. The two 18-year-olds who committed this hideous crime were convicted of a misdemeanor. That means the maximum penalty these boys could receive is five years in prison and $750 in fines.

One of the defense attorneys said this horrible act was simply a stupid teenage mistake. What do you call it, Ann? - An Animal Volunteer in Arlington, Va.

Dear Virginia: This is a great deal more serious than a teenage mistake. I call it sadistic behavior that may be psychopathic as well. According to The Des Moines Register, the teens were sentenced to 23 days in jail and fined $2,500 each, $1,800 of which will go to the owners of the shelter for psychological counseling. The boys were put on probation and must complete a special program for youthful offenders or face four years in prison.

Meanwhile, someone should keep an eye on those young men. Almost all serial killers have a history of torturing animals. The name of Jeffrey Dahmer comes to mind. Remember him? That is precisely how he started his killing career.

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