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Girlfriend worries about boyfriend’s baby son

Friday, November 14, 2008

Dear Annie: My boyfriend’s ex-wife called and said their 19-month-old son had bitten another child at day care. This isn’t so unusual, but what bothers me is that the day-care provider put dish soap on his tongue. Wouldn’t this be considered some form of child abuse? My boyfriend is considering calling Child Protective Services, but his ex is against it.

I’m not crazy about the way the ex-wife is raising this child. She lives in the basement of her mother’s townhouse and there are no windows. If a fire should occur, they would never be able to get out. She constantly yells at their son for being a child. After his very enjoyable visits with us, his ex complains that he is doing bad things, like tossing a toy down the stairs, putting items in the laundry chute and touching breakables, which to me is perfectly normal behavior for a child his age.

She complains that he throws temper tantrums and then blames us, saying we don’t discipline properly. Annie, we discipline by talking with our children. They will also get a time out. She thinks we should be yelling and hitting more.

Should we fight to get custody of his son? We know he is happy with us. Or do we contact the authorities and report child endangerment? Stepmom

Dear Stepmom: Washing a kid’s mouth out with soap used to be fairly common and may not constitute child abuse, but we do question whether or not that day-care provider is properly licensed. The boy might be better off with you, although taking him away from his mother could create other problems. If your boyfriend wants custody of his son, he should discuss the matter with his attorney.

Dear Annie: I am an 81-year-old widow and not rich, but I do try to give to a few organizations once a year. I find, however, that after I send a donation, I start getting loads of note cards, note pads, address labels and requests for more money. It seems to me that if they would take the money they are spending on all this printed stuff, they wouldn’t have to beg so much.

I order my own address labels because I use them in books, covered dishes and file folders, and I still have plenty. I don’t need more. Other than the two organizations I always support, I will only be giving to my church and community, and I hope others do the same. Complaining in Tennessee

Dear Tennessee: Obviously, the cost of printing and bulk-mailing items is worth it if enough people send back a donation. However, unsolicited gifts, even from charities, do not require payment. If you receive note cards or labels, feel free to use what you want and recycle the rest.

Dear Annie: I had to write in response to “DPN” about why men cheat. Like your readers, my husband always tells me I don’t make him feel important or give him enough affection.

My husband is an alcoholic. He drinks from the time he gets up until he goes to bed or passes out, whichever comes first. He also is a heavy smoker. His breath and body reek of cigarettes and stale beer. When he drinks, he has an outrageous temper. I have been cursed and called every name you can think of. We have a barely functioning sex life because of his alcohol consumption. Truthfully, I don’t miss it because I’m not attracted to him anymore.

Whenever I mention the word divorce he tells me he can’t live without me and if I leave he will kill himself. So I stay for him and for our two children. If there’s a woman who wants to take him off my hands, she can have him. After years of emotional and verbal abuse, my “give a darn” is busted. Given Up

• E-mail your questions to or write to: Annie’s Mailbox‚Ñ¢, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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