Dear Annie: I've been friends with "Louise" for 35 years. She sees the same doctor I do.
Apparently, at her last appointment, Louise talked about my grown children and how much they weigh and insinuated that my grown son is too ugly for her daughter. She told this to the entire office staff with the exception of my youngest daughter, who is the office manager. My daughter was on a break when this took place, but her co-workers told her about it when she returned.
Needless to say, I was very hurt by what Louise said. I don't understand why she chose to make such horrible comments about my children, especially to people who know them, and I'm not sure I can forgive her. The friendship certainly will never be the same.
Should I confront her? - Disappointed in My Friend
Dear Disappointed: Louise should not be discussing your children negatively with anyone, let alone someone who knows them. And the co-workers should not have repeated these malicious comments to your daughter, who repeated them to you. Now you are forced to reevaluate your friendship with Louise, and no matter the outcome, this incident has poisoned the well.
Please talk to Louise, but do so calmly. Tell her that the office staff repeated the unkind words she said about your children, and you'd like to know why she felt the need to disparage them in public. Let her explain herself and, hopefully, apologize. How (or whether) you choose to maintain the friendship after that depends on your comfort levels.
Dear Annie: One of my best friends constantly bites her nails. She has cats and dogs, occasionally babysits a toddler and does a lot of gardening. This is a lot of dirt and germs under her nails. Doesn't she know she could make herself sick?
I've tried talking to her about her habit, but she says she can't quit and that nothing bad has happened. But, Annie, she doesn't even try. How can I make her stop biting her nails? - Concerned Friend
Dear Friend: If your friend washes her hands thoroughly after gardening, lying with the dogs and cats, and changing the baby's diaper, etc., she is probably OK. The bigger problem is how far down she bites her nails and whether she bites the cuticle. This would make her susceptible to infection.
Nail biting is an obsessive-compulsive disorder. The simplest solution is to coat the nails with a bitter-tasting polish. If that doesn't help, the next step is therapy. But your problem is, you cannot make her do anything she isn't willing to do. Inform her of the likelihood of infection and direct her to some material on the subject. Then leave her alone.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Just Venting," whose two sisters never helped care for their 90-year-old father. I was impressed that one of them had actually cared for him for six weeks in three years. That may not sound like much, but often siblings who still have issues with parents or who are scared to death of this physically and mentally exhausting job want nothing to do with any of it.
"Venting" can be consoled by the fact that even if she had discussed this with her siblings before Dad moved in with her, it likely would have made no difference. I have talked with my siblings until I am blue in the face, and in return, I've been criticized and ignored, because this is a job no one wants.
It's better to forgive people who let you down rather than hold on to resentment. She can feel satisfied that she did the right thing for her father. - Been There, Still Doing That
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.