A Girl Can’t Be Too Careful
Dear Margo: I recently created a profile on Match.com and OkCupid after friends convinced me that they are great ways to meet new guys in my area. But part of me is scared to meet these strangers. I want to know whether I can trust my potential date, especially now with news reports from Aruba that Robyn Gardner’s disappearance was linked to a man she met on Match. As finding love online becomes increasingly socially acceptable, is it OK to run an affordable background check on sites such as BeenVerified.com to know that your date does not have a criminal record? — Anonymous, New York City
Dear An: I think it is perfectly fine to run a background check. Some women even go for the pricier PI’s. Forget disappearing in Aruba. More than one dude on these sites has turned out to be married, to more than one woman, at the same time. — Margo, cautiously
Grandparents Are Wonderful — and They Come Free!
Dear Margo: My daughter and son-in-law have three children and no babysitters except my husband and me. We are always being asked to babysit for them — usually two or more times a week. I adore my grandkids and know that I’m blessed to have them in town with us; so many grandparents are not as lucky. However, when I was working, it was difficult to accommodate all of the requests, and now that I’m laid off and looking for work, the requests are increasing. They seldom return when they say they will and usually extend any outing into a chance to do errands, etc.
We have asked our daughter to find someone else to use as a backup, but she says they can’t afford to pay anyone. They do seem to find money for expensive toys and clothes for themselves and the kids. My husband says I should consider us lucky that we have them near. I feel like we are being taken advantage of. Am I being selfish? I have requests for five babysitting times during the next two weeks, two of them for a full day. — 60-Year-Old Grandma
Dear 60: You are in no way being selfish to rebel at being an unpaid nanny-on-call. The fact that they have money for discretionary spending should relieve you of any guilt when you start declining some of these “requests.” Simply say that such-and-such a time doesn’t work for you because you have another appointment. And if Gramps considers you “lucky,” send him! — Margo, realistically
When Stepping In Is the Right Thing To Do
Dear Margo: I am a 15-year-old girl with a good group of friends. One of them went to visit her cousins over the summer. I have met them, and they’re really the “mean girls.” When she came home, I invited her over to go swimming. “Brittany” came over, and we did go swimming. Now I’m extremely concerned about her. She’s become very thin to the point where anyone can see her ribs sticking out. I’m afraid she has developed anorexia. She never wants to eat at my house and tells me a bunch of “nutrition facts” about the food I eat. Brittany seems to be very weak, and I’m scared she will die from what I think is anorexia nervosa. Are there any online support groups I might be able to interest her in? We’re extremely close, and she might listen to me, but what should I say? Should I even get involved? — Scared for Skinny
Dear Scare: You should, indeed, get involved. While there are online support and information groups, I doubt that you could interest her in them. I assume your friend has parents. You need, first, to tell her that it’s clear to you that she is in terrible trouble. I suspect there will be denial. Then you go to her parents. I’m pretty sure they already know, but if they have not done anything, the fact that an outsider is concerned might nudge them to take control. Should nothing happen, or if they are resistant, then go to the counselor at school and reveal your concerns. Because she’s a minor, the authorities might be able to step in. But I want you to know that if her mental and physical health do not improve, you will have tried your hardest, and the situation is ultimately out of your hands. — Margo, supportively
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to email@example.com. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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