Dear Annie: My 10th-grader, “Katie,” is switching to a different high school in two weeks. The other day, my son mentioned that his friend’s sister spread a bad rumor about Katie at the new school. Of course, Katie is quite upset. She was friends with this girl, although they haven’t hung out together in a few months. We really don’t understand why the girl spread the rumor.
Do I call the girl’s mother and ask her to have her daughter clear the air at school? Should I let sleeping dogs lie for fear of retaliation and further damage to my daughter’s reputation?
Katie is in tears over this. It’s hard enough being 15 and switching schools midyear. But starting off as the new kid with a bad reputation is more than she can take. I realize teenage girls can be quite nasty and I can’t protect my daughter from everything, but this is unacceptable. Please help. – Saddened Mother in Massachusetts
Dear Mother: Katie needs to hold her head up high, and you need to speak to the school principal and explain the problem. The girl who spread the gossip may be jealous of Katie or she may have been looking for attention, but the school should have a policy in place regarding bullying and this falls under that category. If Katie knows any other kids at the new school, she should discuss this frankly with them and ask for their assistance in dispelling these nasty rumors.
Dear Annie: I have been married to “Ted” for 25 years and most have been OK. The main problem is that Ted has obsessive-compulsive disorder. He refuses to take medication for his OCD and it’s driving me crazy. We have five high-maintenance children, and when he cannot control their every move, he treats them terribly.
I feel I am being a bad mother if I stay with him. He is very mean and makes all of us feel like losers. My two oldest daughters don’t want to be around their father at all. We have been to counseling, but Ted only goes when he knows I am ready to walk out.
I do not have a very good support system if I leave him, so please tell me how to deal with this before my three younger children grow up dysfunctional. – Tired of Being in the Middle in Pennsylvania
Dear Tired: Ted won’t admit he has a problem and that makes him unwilling to get help. The fact that he responds when you threaten to leave, however, means you do have some influence over his choices. Contact the Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation (ocfoundation.org), P.O. Box 961029, Boston, MA 02196, and ask for assistance. And if he won’t go with you for counseling, go without him.