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Niece’s immaturity causes problems

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Updated: January 10, 2013 6:06AM



Dear Annie: My niece, “Susan,” is 23 years old and in college. After four years, she still hasn’t picked a major. She is quite intelligent, but lazy and immature. She is socially awkward and has lost friends because of her negative attitude.

My problem is, Susan wants to “hang out” with my 15-year-old daughter. She invites herself over whenever she likes. My daughter is a terrific, normal girl who excels in sports and school and has many friends. She doesn’t want to hang out with a 23-year-old cousin, and we don’t want her to, either.

We try to make excuses, hoping Susan will eventually get the hint, to no avail. Her mother doesn’t get hints, either. It sometimes puts us in an awkward position because she is so persistent. I am tired of being expected to accommodate Susan because she is family. That shouldn’t be a free pass for forcing my child to be around someone who is neither age appropriate nor a good influence. I don’t want my daughter’s “half-full” optimism to be drained by someone who always thinks the glass is half-empty. Suggestions?

Annoyed Mom

Dear Mom: What you call “lazy and immature” is much more complicated. When we hear that a young person is intelligent but socially awkward, it could be Asperger’s syndrome. The fact that Susan likes to hang around with your 15-year-old daughter indicates that she is uncomfortable with her peers. If her mother is the same way, it is likely to be an inherited trait and environmentally reinforced behavior.

Please stop hinting to people who don’t get it. Talk to both Susan and her mother. Say that you think Susan is smart and you love her, but that she would benefit from finding more appropriate friends. Suggest they talk to Susan’s physician about an evaluation.

Dear Readers: Tonight is The Compassionate Friends’ Worldwide Candle Lighting for children who have died. Please light a candle this evening at 7 p.m., local time, and remember them with love.

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