Annie's Mailbox: Week of Aug 16

Annie's Mailbox

Dear Annie:

I am married to a man with two children from a previous marriage. They are adults. My husband is 15 years my senior, and he married early the first time, so long story short, his children are only four and six years younger than I am. The problem is with his daughter.

She really doesn’t have much of a social life and because of that spends much of her spare time at our house. This summer, she has been at our house seven days a week. She had vacation from work for three weeks and spent the entire time here. One of my biggest complaints is the lack of boundaries. She helps herself to whatever she wants without asking, comes in and out, and follows her father around. She generally arrives here in the early afternoon, when I have just gotten home from my first job and have two hours before going to my second job. When I get home at 9 p.m. or later, she is still here! Sometimes she’s here when I arrive even when my husband isn’t home.

I am feeling suffocated, and the lack of privacy for me is driving me crazy. I feel it’s disrespectful on her part and on my husband’s part. I don’t think it is fair to me to have a grown woman (54 years old) spending so much time here. It is weighing on me and, frankly, on my marriage. I have to tread lightly because she takes everything personally, and my husband says she’s fragile, so everyone needs to be nice.

How do I get this to stop? I am ready to leave, honestly. It’s gone on for so long I am afraid I should have confronted the situation before it got to this point, but it’s not easy to talk to a father about his child. Please help me sort this out before I explode!

— Had Enough of the Helicopter Child

Dear Had Enough:

You are wise to tread lightly. It is probably difficult for your husband to face the fact that his 54-year-old daughter does not have a life of her own and spends almost all of her time with her father. Tell your husband how you feel. All couples need alone time, and you are not getting any with a roommate, especially one who is still so tied to her father. Cutting the cord slowly will benefit your stepdaughter, your husband, you and ultimately your marriage. The trick is to communicate with all parties involved, set the boundaries that you know are necessary and welcome her warmly when she visits according to the schedule you all agree upon.

Dear Annie:

In regard to the letter about the pronunciation of the years since 2000, it didn’t flow off the tongue easily to say, for example, “twenty oh two” for 2002, so we started saying “two thousand two.” Come to think of it, it probably originated long before the turn of the century. It may date back to the book and movie “2001:

A Space Odyssey.” Everyone pronounced it “two thousand one.” People just became accustomed to saying it that way, and even though we have moved on to the teen years and it is actually easier to say “twenty eighteen” now, many people still say it the “thousand” way.

— Baby Boomer

Dear Baby Boomer:

I never considered that Stanley Kubrick may have something to do with it, but that’s an interesting theory. Thanks for writing.

Dear Annie:

I am seeking some advice. I have a disability, and my place of employment is discriminating against me based on that disability. I finally filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and waited. Having heard nothing, I phoned just to make sure the EEOC got the forms. After repeatedly calling, I finally had a return call stating that my case had been automatically deleted from the EEOC’s computer system after 90 days because of inactivity.

I went to the local EEOC office to file my complaint in person, but with interview questions such as “Why are you here, because you have not lost your job?” it became uncomfortable, as well as insulting. Am I wrong in believing that no one should be told one’s harassment or discrimination is unimportant because one is still employed? The officer then directed me to another agency but said not to tell that agency I am disabled, because it would be referred back to the EEOC.

As you can see, I really am at a loss and would appreciate some advice. Do I just go back and try again, or should I lodge a complaint with someone? If you recommend the latter, to whom should I complain?

— Dismayed in Kentucky

Dear Dismayed:

How incredibly frustrating. You’re not wrong for trying to file a complaint. You don’t need to be fired in order for your concerns about workplace discrimination to be valid. That’s not how that works. I’d recommend contacting a plaintiff-side employment lawyer (many offer free consultations) to discuss your situation and the options for redressing your grievances.