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Stepdad needs to step back a bit

Kathy Mitchell/Marcy Sugar

Dear Annie: My 24-year-old daughter, “Dawn,” still lives at home. The problem is my husband, her stepfather. “Jim” likes to control everything Dawn does. She’s in the process of looking for an apartment, and Jim wants to decide where she lives and what she does once she moves out. He doesn’t trust anything she does or says because she has lied to us in the past.

Jim has two children from his first marriage, and he didn’t do this with them. They don’t have anything to do with him now, so I think he’s overcompensating. This controlling behavior has been going on for quite some time, and the fighting is endless.

I believe we should let our children learn from their mistakes. Jim thinks we need to prevent Dawn from making any. What should I do? – Miserable Mom

Dear Mom: Tell Jim to back off. Dawn needs to get out of the house and live independently, and the sooner you can help her do that the better. Whatever mistakes she makes are learning experiences. Jim may have been uninvolved in the older children’s lives, but he is overinvolved in Dawn’s. He has to stop.

Dear Annie: I lost my husband 11 years ago to a massive heart attack. Like the letter from “Grieving Dad,” my sister was never there for me. At one point, she told me she could not handle my grief and quit speaking to me.

Luckily, I have a sister-in-law who listened and let me cry. All she said was that she loved and cared about me. That helped my healing more than anything else.

I am getting married to a wonderful man who lost his wife to a sudden heart attack three years ago. I do not get upset when he cries. I love him enough to take the time to understand. I wish my sister had, because it destroyed our relationship. – California

Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.
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