Dear Annie: We are the future. It may sound cheesy, but that's the motto I live by, and it's one of the reasons I believe so strongly in the need to prevent and reduce tobacco use among teens and kids. My passion for tobacco-use prevention started when I saw the harm that tobacco use caused my older sister. She started smoking at age 13 and ended up with an addiction that spiraled out of control, in many ways taking her childhood with it.
Dear Annie: My sister, "Suzie," has always been a bit of a flower child, and my parents think it's funny.
Dear Annie: I am a 44-year-old guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. I met "Lisa" two years ago. I was fresh out of a divorce. Lisa was in terrible shape. Her mother had just died, and shortly after, she lost her fiance in a traffic accident. Then she moved back home to take care of her ailing father.
Dear Annie: I have been dating my boyfriend for four years. We both have children from our previous relationships and share custody with our exes. Until recently, we had our kids on the same weekends. Then my boyfriend's ex decided that her children cannot be here when my 11-year-old son is staying over.
Dear Annie: I am an elementary school teacher. This year I have two 7-year-old students with major behavior issues. Both of them have threatened to bring a gun to school and shoot me and their classmates. As shocking as it is to hear this from such young children, the response from the people in charge is worse.
Dear Annie: I took a job at a local bookstore after my position as a special ed teacher was downsized. Now I have a "special ed" problem at work.
Dear Annie: I am a teenager in the northwest. Recently, I contracted a kidney infection that was painful and needed treatment. I didn't know what I had and wasn't familiar with the symptoms, so the only thing I said to my parents was that I didn't feel well.
Dear Annie: I don't know how much longer I can handle my daughter and her family living in our home. Five years ago, they came here intending to stay "a few months." My husband is ill, and he is extremely uncomfortable having no privacy and being limited to our bedroom for days at a time. I try to be kind, but I am still grieving the loss of my son to cancer. My son-in-law doesn't even pretend to make an effort to find a place anymore. And he does not help us around the house or contribute to ...
Dear Annie: My boyfriend's parents are truly wonderful people, but they have taught their son to rely solely on them. He is in his 50s, and they still pay his bills and give him loans, often for "toys" rather than something necessary. I am self-sufficient. I borrow money from no one, pay my bills and am on a limited budget.
Dear Annie: I am a 19-year-old heroin addict striving toward recovery. I go to five Narcotics Anonymous meetings a week, but I have occasional setbacks. After the most recent incident, I left drug paraphernalia in the bathroom. I took full responsibility and was ashamed and disgusted with myself. But the first thing my mother said was, "Did you leave that out on purpose so your sister could find it and start experimenting? She's only 13!"
Dear Annie: My wife and I are having marital problems. Our issues started when I caught her lying to me and talking privately on the phone to my best friend of 12 years -- the same guy who was the best man at my wedding. After arguing for a few days, I asked her to make a sincere effort to go for counseling, and she agreed. I also asked her to stop speaking to my friend during the time we are trying to repair our marriage. She agreed to that, too.
Dear Annie: I'm a mother in my mid-20s and a very concerned sister. My brother, "Dennis," is four years younger and the first to graduate high school. He went to college and had everything going for him. Now he is throwing it all away.
Dear Annie: I have been with "John" for more than 10 years. We have children together. I have reached the point in my life that I wish to be married. I never wanted to be a girlfriend forever, and he knew this from the beginning.
Dear Annie: Two years ago, my son's fiancee recommended we rotate who hosts Christmas dinner. That year, she and my son went to her mom's house, and last year they were supposed to come to mine. Instead, they went to her mom's again and were upset that I didn't want to tag along.
Annie, at the time, my 73-year-old mother was in a rehab facility.
Dear Annie: Normally I'm good at minding my own business, but when I see how my granddaughter, "Susie," manipulates her mother (my daughter), I feel the urge to say something.