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Daughter can’t protect father from himself

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dear Annie: I am a 31-year-old daughter of newly divorced parents. My father, 52, just bought a house. He is already telling my sister and me about his new 28-year-old female “friend,” who is having trouble at home and will be moving in along with her 5-year-old son. She works in his office.

How could my father be so foolish? He is obviously not thinking clearly and doesn’t realize this young woman is just using him for financial security. I want to call her at the office and tell her what I think of her. If she moves in with my father, I have no intention of bringing my son to see his grandfather. I don’t want to have anything to do with this woman. Please help. Dad’s Crazy

Dear Crazy: So your father is behaving like a teenager, which makes him an object of ridicule to you. It is understandable that you would be angry and worried about him, but unfortunately, you cannot protect your father from himself. You can punish him by withholding your son, or you can find out if this young woman is making him happy, even if she is taking advantage and you don’t approve. An estrangement will hurt you as well as Dad and isn’t likely to change anything about his behavior. Consider what you expect to accomplish by keeping your distance, and then do what gives you peace of mind.

Dear Annie: I recently noticed that my grandson spends his allowance and gift money as soon as he gets it. In fact, he is almost frantic to spend it. I wondered why, and then found out that instead of time outs or having privileges rescinded, he is disciplined by having his money taken away. That explains why he wants to exchange it for tangible goods as quickly as possible.

I am concerned that this method of discipline is setting him up for financial failure later in life. He is only 8 years old, but early experiences with money can be very significant.

My input would be seen as unwelcome interference. Is there anything I can do to help my grandchild learn money management skills in this type of environment? Are there more effective forms of discipline? Observant Granny

Dear Granny: Most discipline involves taking away something the child values, such as toys, television time or interacting with friends and family members. In your grandson’s case, it’s money. Essentially, he is being fined for bad behavior. That would be OK if it’s a specific amount. However, if a large or arbitrary amount is taken when he misbehaves, it teaches him to spend immediately and not save anything, both of which are terrible habits to learn.

Offer to set up a savings account for your grandson, in his name and yours, where he can put aside some of the gift money you (and others) give him. Let him see the balance grow, and encourage him to save up for something specific. That might help.

Dear Annie: “T.T. in Dallas” asked whether it was proper to overturn one’s wine glass if he didn’t want wine. You said according to Emily Post, if he couldn’t put his hand over the glass, he should allow the server to pour and just not drink it.

I am an alcoholic, with many years of sobriety. However, if there were a poured glass of good wine sitting in front of me, my entire focus would be on that glass. Do I still like the taste? Could I have just one? For alcoholics, finding a polite way to ensure that we are not unduly stressed by the presence of alcohol becomes imperative. For newly sober people who want to maintain sobriety and anonymity in an unavoidable job or social situation, why is it rude to turn over a glass? N.D.

Dear N.D.: The question was about etiquette. If one is a recovering alcoholic, however, etiquette can make room for sobriety. So go ahead and turn the glass over.

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

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