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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Dad, Mom are trying to deter bad influence

Kathy Mitchell Marcy Sugar United Feature Syndicate

Dear Annie: I am a 14-year-old female, and “Mallory” is my best friend. She recently moved here and lives down the road. We got caught smoking pot. It was my first time, but Mallory has done it for a while. I realize what I did was wrong, and my parents forgave me, but they say I am not allowed to talk to Mallory ever again – not even in school next year. My mom told our principal to keep us apart at all times.

I feel I can straighten her out, but I’m not being given the chance. I can’t find a way to get around my parents, and they won’t give in. Please help. – Loyal Friend

Dear Loyal Friend: Your parents are trying to protect you from someone they see as a bad influence – and you have to admit, Mallory’s track record is already sketchy if she got you to smoke pot with her. You may believe you can influence her behavior for the better, but your parents think it’s just as likely that she will influence you in the other direction.

If you are honest with yourself, you will acknowledge that this is a possibility. There also is “guilt by association,” which means even if you are on the straight and narrow, others will get the wrong impression if you hang out with Mallory, and a bad reputation is hard to shake.

We’re not going to give you a way to circumvent your parents, and we think it’s a good idea to cultivate some new friends. In the meantime, however, talk to your folks. Ask, if Mallory makes a sincere effort to clean up her act, you can talk to her again. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Dear Annie: I have been friends with “Susan” for 10 years. She and I have always been there for each other. I don’t know what I would have done without her during my divorce.

Susan lives 40 miles away, and we speak every week on the phone, but the last time I saw her was eight months ago, when her husband was in the hospital. Whenever I ask Susan if she wants to meet for lunch or take in a movie, she always is “too busy.” It hurts that she can’t find time to meet me for a cup of coffee, yet she has another friend who lives two hours away, and they see each other quite often.

Susan and I never have had a disagreement, and her neglect has me confused. I’ve given up asking to get together, because I fear being rejected. I don’t know what to do. Do you have any advice? – Rejected in Louisiana

Dear Rejected: Susan values your friendship and wants to maintain contact, but she has no interest in spending hours in your company. There could be many reasons – you could remind her of her husband’s hospitalization, you may come across as emotionally needy or she may simply feel you have divergent interests.

If you want to remain Susan’s friend, you’ll have to leave the relationship as is and not expect more. We suggest focusing on those friends who live closer, and who think time spent with you is well worth it.

Dear Annie: How do you get a husband to be sympathetic? When I had the flu, he never once asked how I was feeling. When I twisted my ankle, he did not come to my aid. If I have a migraine, he wouldn’t think to bring me a glass of water. I am totally ignored, and then he sits down waiting for his dinner.

I already have driven myself to the emergency room once. I am afraid if I ever have a major problem, he will not help. Got any clues? – Arizona

Dear Arizona: No one taught your husband how to express concern, so it’s up to you to speak up. Have a heart-to-heart and tell him exactly how you feel. Then, the next time you need him, say sweetly, “Honey, I twisted my ankle and could really use your help getting to that chair.” Then when he does it, be sure to thank him warmly, so it occurs to him to do it again.

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