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18-year-old deserves more independence

Kathy Mitchell & Marcy Sugar Creators Syndicate

Dear Annie: My daughter graduated from high school in June. “Kaitlin” has a serious boyfriend, and they spend almost all of their time at our house.

My husband says a 10 p.m. curfew is sufficient time to say goodnight, regardless of whether it’s a Monday or a weekend. I think he could be a bit more lenient, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

We need help resolving this matter. Any rules for a daughter who is somewhat responsible would be greatly appreciated. I think it’s a new generation and things are done differently than when we were growing up, but my husband sees otherwise. I’m at a total loss. – Mother Who Needs Rules in Florida

Dear Mother: We assume Kaitlin is over 18. That means she is an adult and needs to be given a bit more independence. Riding too hard on a child that age will only cause resentment and a quicker exit from the house. Keep in mind, if Kaitlin lived away from home, she would have no curfew at all, and she knows it.

If Kaitlin is working or attending school, a 10 p.m. curfew on weeknights is OK, although conservative. Weekends should be extended to midnight or later, and that’s only because Dad is likely to be waiting up and shouldn’t be deprived of too much sleep. We hope this helps your husband loosen the chains.

Dear Annie: Our son, “Theo,” died several years ago. After his death, our oldest daughter told me that Theo had confessed, while inebriated, that he had sexually molested their younger sister, “Patsy.” My daughter didn’t know what to do with this information, so she passed it on to me. Now I don’t know what to do with it.

This incident would have occurred when Theo was 15, and Patsy about 6 years old. Patsy seems to idolize her big brother’s memory, so I’m not sure she remembers what happened. But she has had many problems over the years.

I just wonder if any good can be gained by discussing this with her now. Can you help me? – Saddened Mother

Dear Mother: There’s no way for us to know if Patsy remembers the molestation or not, and her feelings toward her brother may be colored by his death.

You don’t say how old Patsy is now, but since she has had problems over the years, counseling could be a helpful option, whether or not there was molestation. If you think she would be receptive, say that you’ve noticed she’s had some difficulties lately, and ask if she would be interested in seeing someone. If she has any recollection of Theo’s behavior, it should come out in therapy.

Dear Annie: Please remind your readers that back-to-school time can be extremely rough financially for low-income families with school-age kids. Twenty years ago, as a newly divorced mother of a kindergartner, I was overwhelmed by the cost of required supplies. I vividly remember bursting into tears in the back-to-school aisle at the store and vowed to help others when I was in a better financial situation.

For years, I have been picking up the “loss leader” specials and donating them to my local homeless shelter. Last week, I purchased 12 packages of notebook paper at 20 cents each, six boxes of crayons at 10 cents each – you get the idea. I spent about $10 and was able to donate more than $25 worth of school supplies.

Please ask your readers to skip that designer coffee or video rental, and use the money to make a difference in children’s lives. If you do not know of a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, ask at local churches or at the schools themselves. I assure you, somebody needs your help. – Logansport, Ind.

Dear Indiana: What a fabulous and compassionate idea. We’re happy to pass the word.

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