KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR | Annie's Mailbox 'Ashley' has no business breaking the rules

Dear Annie: Our 19-year-old daughter, "Ashley," is living at home while attending a local college. She has a part-time job, and pays her own tuition and car insurance. When Ashley turned 18, we set some house rules and drew up a contract, which all of us signed. Since then, Ashley has broken nearly all of the rules, and repeatedly lied to us about where she's been and with whom. While we understand that she is an adult, my husband and I believe Ashley should respect our rules since she is living in our home.
At the moment, the tension between us is unbearable, and I have told Ashley she has to move out. She is angry, and I feel guilty about what will happen to my beautiful, intelligent daughter, whom I love very much, but who is going through a rough period in her life. I want to be supportive and see her succeed, but I cannot live with the circumstances as they are right now.
Ashley has had a year of counseling but refuses to go back. Is there anything I can do to make this work? Midwest Mom
Dear Mom: Not without Ashley's cooperation. You have every right to set the rules in your own house. Ashley agreed to abide by those rules and has no business sneaking around, lying and getting angry about her own lack of integrity.
The girl is old enough to be on her own. Offer to help with tuition so she can use her part-time income to pay for rent. Tell her you love her and she can always come to you if she needs assistance.
Dear Annie: Whenever my "Aunt Sadie" comes to visit, she stays for several days. She is a sweet lady but a lousy houseguest. She leaves her plates, cups, tissues and cigarette butts on the nightstand for me to dispose of. If I don't move the plates every day, she simply lets them pile up.
Aunt Sadie often leaves personal items in my house, and after she goes home, I will find makeup, toothbrushes and jewelry she has forgotten to pack. Last time, she left dirty clothes in the bathroom, including underwear and a bra. I was disgusted.
I don't expect Aunt Sadie to clean my house, but how hard would it be for her to bring her used plate along when she walks into the kitchen in the morning? And I certainly don't want to be handling her dirty underwear. My husband thinks I should accept the fact that Aunt Sadie is a slob and stop making a big deal out of it. How do you think I should handle it? Not a Maid in North Dakota
Dear N.D.: There is no reason you cannot ask Aunt Sadie to please bring her dirty plates and cups into the kitchen (or insist that she eat at the table with everyone else). Also, before she leaves, walk with her around the house, and make sure she hasn't forgotten anything. Aunt Sadie may indeed be a slob, but that doesn't mean you have to let her get away with it. You are not running a hotel, for heaven's sake.
Dear Annie: Last night, I spent an hour making a nice dinner. While we were eating, the phone rang. It was a friend of my husband's, a man he speaks to several times a week. I asked my husband to tell "Ernie" he'd call him back when we were through eating. My husband refused and spent the next 10 minutes chatting. By the time he came back to the table, his dinner was cold, and the rest of us were finished.
I wouldn't have minded if the call were urgent or long-distance, but it was neither. My husband says it would have been rude to hang up. We've agreed to handle future dinnertime calls by your advice. Who is right? Want Dinner in Peace
Dear Dinner: You are. Unless it's an emergency, dinner comes first and phone calls should be returned at a more convenient time.
XE-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@tbi.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, Ill. 60611.
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