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Tue, Jan. 21

Dear Annie: What to do when teenage third wheel tags along

Dear Annie: I do not get to see my friend “Amy” as often as I’d like because of our busy schedules. My problem is that she continually shows up to our planned outings with her daughter, “Jennie.” She gives little or no notice when she’s bringing her. Her daughter is 17 and not mature for her age, and I don’t feel comfortable talking about adult things (such as marriage issues or other personal problems) in front of her. I end up feeling obligated to ask her questions about her school and her boyfriend, etc. This has been going on for years, though I understood when the child was, well, a child. I just want to have grown-up time and conversations with my friend. I almost want to cancel when I find out that Jennie is tagging along again. It bewilders me why a girl this age cannot cut the apron strings, though I don’t care if it doesn’t affect my time.

I am not good with confrontations but have hinted a few times to my friend that this bothers me. Can you give any advice on how to handle this situation? I’m thinking of just giving up on this until Jennie goes to college. — Three’s a Crowd

Dear Three’s a Crowd: Mother birds shouldn’t wait until they’ve an empty nest to take alone time for themselves now and then. It’s healthy to get together with friends and commiserate about adult problems — though not in the presence of children. I’m not sure why Jennie would want to go to every single lunch with her mom or why her mom would make her. But there’s no reason you can’t politely request one-on-one time. The next time you two are planning an outing, say something like this: “I’d really like a chance to talk to you about my personal life, and I just don’t feel comfortable doing that when Jennie’s there. Could we keep this lunch to just us?” If she rejects the idea, put the ball in her court. Ask her to let you know when it’s a good time for the two of you to get together.

Dear Annie: I am writing in response to “If Only He Had a Heart,” who complained about her younger brother’s behavior. One of her statements was sheer prejudice: “He was ... let’s face it, a teenage boy.” Not all teenage boys are troublemakers. Why should “teenage boy” be a synonym for “bratty, angsty and entitled”? No other group can be treated as being all the same just because some are bad. But apparently, it’s OK to say such a thing, because you didn’t correct her. — A Teenage Boy in Texas

Dear Teenage Boy: I appreciate your writing. You are absolutely right. Not all teenage boys behave badly, and making sweeping generalizations helps no one. I’m printing your letter to correct the record.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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