Annie Lane: Letting go doesn’t mean you have to lose

Published 5:36 pm Friday, December 3, 2021

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Dear Readers: Thank you for all your responses to “Letting Go Is Hard to Do.” We have undeniably wonderful parents among our readership. Here are two of my favorite letters.

Dear Annie: This is in response to “Letting Go Is Hard to Do,” who was worried about the choices her daughter might be making at college after seeing a questionable bank transaction.

I am also the mom of a college-age student. We have had a joint account ever since my son was a senior in high school.

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I made a promise to myself to not allow our joint checking accounts to be a way to peek into his world. Trust me, it is very hard not to look — especially when I am transferring money to his account. If his spending info pops up, I look away and put my hand over so I cannot see.

It is a don’t-see-don’t-tell trust that I never told him I had in place. He is very independent, and if I’d have questioned things, he would have started to mistrust me. There is always a way teens get around roadblocks; it’s called taking cash out of the account and spending it that way or buying a Visa gift card with the cash.

It gets easier as they get older to not look. I encourage you to think about why you need to look at how she spends her money. My son was no angel for a good four to five years. But he trusts me now, and when the really hard/big things come up, he comes to me for comfort and direction, and to ease his fears. Let a little more of the string go, and when your bird flies, you will be rewarded with trust and honesty.

— Money and Trust

Dear Annie: I want to be as polite as I can in this reply to the mom who’s concerned about her 18-year-old daughter essentially just being an 18-year-old away at college.

With all due respect, Letting Go — because you sound like a great mom and you seem to have a good bond with your daughter — maybe drop the “God’s gift” talk, stop thinking about what your religion teaches about birth control and just ask your kid if she’s OK and let her know you’re there to talk.

She may not be as interested as you are in what God and your religious community’s leadership thinks about her sex life. Meanwhile, here on Earth, you’re both humans who love each other. Lead with that.

In terms of sex addiction and so-called addictive behaviors, aka symptoms of a disease called addiction, which aren’t “behaviors” in an addict but rather compulsions, again, be honest. Talk about it head-on. Don’t minimize it if you’re truly worried.

And if you’re not, let her live her life and keep your opinions to yourself. You can either have a relationship that is close, honest and real or have some mix of hope, denial and religious idealism. But the half-measure of trying to have both almost guarantees the first will be lost, which would be a shame.

Keep your life between you and God, her life between you and her, and trust God to know how to handle the rest. God is too busy caring for billions of souls to really care much about birth control and sex toys. Take God’s lead.

— Dad of a Teen, Too

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to