Dear Annie: I am dating the most wonderful man in the world. "Oscar" does everything for me. He is kind and sweet. But his family is a problem.

We could be in the middle of supper, but if his mother needs him to run to the store (she has a car and is capable of driving it), he will leave. Sometimes I won't see him for hours and he comes back tired. He works hard at two jobs, and after doing all his mother's household chores, I am lucky to get a phone call.

I have tried to be supportive, but someone from his family is always yelling at him to do something. He keeps making excuses why it is acceptable for them to treat him this way.

I've told Oscar how I feel, but after nine months, the situation has not changed in spite of his promises that it will. The only thing that makes me stay is that men like him are so hard to come by. He tells me he loves me and shows it when we're together. I'd just like time together that is not subject to postponement because his family needs him.

In the past week, I've talked to Oscar three times and that's because I've called him. He hasn't made any effort to contact me. His excuse for not keeping in touch was that his mom needed him to do stuff around the house.

I really love this man, but everyone says he may as well marry his mother. I don't want to dump him. I want someone to tell me how to become his No. 1 priority. —Lonely Girlfriend with Mixed Feelings

Dear Lonely: It's unlikely to happen. Is Oscar such a terrific guy that you are willing to overlook the too-tight apron strings? Until he shows you that you come first, you will continue to have this problem, and over time, you will become resentful. Either appreciate his good qualities and tolerate his attachment to his family, or cut him loose.

Dear Annie: When my daughters were young, I found that my husband had cheated on me. I stayed in the marriage for their sake, but I've never felt the same for him. He had an affair with his secretary and admitted to going to prostitutes. The absolute worst was that he propositioned my married sisters. Everyone in my family knew but me. I am only staying until my youngest daughter finishes high school.

My question is, should I ever tell our daughters? Is it something they should know? Do I owe them the truth, or would they be better off not knowing? —Silent in Seattle

Dear Seattle: Please don't tell them. Infidelity is a problem between a husband and wife. Confiding these details to your children would be hurtful and possibly destroy a valuable relationship with their father.

Dear Annie: I was appalled at the "educator" who wrote: "Teachers have enough to do without creating independent study plans for lazy students. Let these kids fail the subjects they are so bored in, repeat the grade and maybe then they will learn a valuable life lesson."

Whoever you are, you are part of the problem with education today. These kids aren't lazy about homework, they just don't see the point. And maybe the fault lies with the educator. A teacher should ALWAYS be able to answer the question: "Why do we have to learn this?" —Still Learning

Dear Still: Sometimes the answer is: "Because it's part of the curriculum," and this is not the teacher's fault. Still, forcing a bright student to repeat a grade teaches nothing positive.


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