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KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR \ Annie's Mailbox Family suffers effects of anger

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dear Annie: I am worried about my 35-year-old daughter, "Myrna." She is obsessed with clothing sizes, has frequent flare-ups of anger and ignores her daughters.
Myrna had liposuction to remove fat, yet continues to frequent fast-food places. Her clothes are always two sizes too small, and the seams are on the verge of ripping wide open. No one can convince her how awful it looks. Our entire family has spoken to her, but it falls on deaf ears.
And just about anything will provoke a temper tantrum. Often these fits of anger are aimed at her husband, right in front of her daughters. Her husband is a good guy, and I feel sorry for him. Myrna will carry on these verbal attacks endlessly. Her husband hates it when the only way he can stop her is to yell back. He says there is no reasoning with her. She will never admit when she's wrong.
I am worried about their marriage and what the anger is doing to their daughters. In a recent fit of anger, Myrna threatened to get a divorce and told her girls that they had to pick which parent they were going to live with. The girls locked themselves in their rooms.
Myrna thinks quality time with the girls means taking them shopping. They have complained that all Mommy does is yell at them. My wife and I have kept our mouths shut, but we worry. What can we do? Concerned Grandpa in Jacksonville, Fla.
Dear Grandpa: Urge Myrna's husband to get the family into counseling. Myrna needs to understand how her anger is damaging her marriage and hurting her children. The family also needs to develop coping skills. In the meantime, provide a safe haven for your granddaughters. Invite them to come to your home often and offer to baby-sit if you can. Don't criticize their mother. Help them understand that Myrna loves them, and her fits of anger are actually more about her dissatisfaction with herself than with them.
Dear Annie: My 77-year-old mother truly believes that the oven light must be on to brown her cookies and pies. I cannot get her to accept that it's not true. Could you shed some light on this, please? Lights On in London
Dear London: Does Mom realize that the oven light is simply a light bulb that allows you to see inside? Can you show it to her? Does her oven have a manual that explains exactly where the heat comes from? If none of this convinces her, we say leave it alone. It's kinda cute, and except for burning out the bulbs, it's harmless.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Raising a Son," who said young boys are also pressured to have sex. One night, I was saying goodnight to my 12-year- old son, and he said, "Dad, can I talk to you? You might want to sit down."
He then told me there was a girl at school who wanted to have sex with him, and he asked how to tell her "no" without hurting her feelings or looking like a wimp. I replied, "Well, son, you ask this girl, 'Do you respect me?' and then tell her, 'If and when I'm ready for sex, I want it to be with someone I plan to marry, when I am ready to be a dad.'"
Of course, I also told him if none of that works, he can tell her he'd be in serious trouble if his dad found out -- he'd be grounded until college, he'd never get a driver's license, would lose all phone and computer privileges and would never be able to leave the house again. Dad from Michigan
Dear Dad: It sounds as if you and your son have a close, loving relationship. We're glad he felt comfortable coming to you, and that you provided him with some helpful, and humorous, advice.
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