Your ex may be a jerk,
but donít sour the kids on him
Dear Annie: I have two daughters who have their biological fatherís last
name. He never phones or visits. In six years, he has seen them once for an
I would like to change their last name to my maiden name. I have full physical
and legal custody of my girls. My ex has supervised visitation that he hasnít
taken advantage of. I married a wonderful man seven years ago, and he is truly
I have no idea where their biological father lives. Iíve asked his sister,
and she, too, has no clue. He has been in and out of jail on drug charges, and
seeing as he isnít paying child support or showing any interest in the girls,
I donít feel they should have to use his last name.
How do I go about changing their names with the least amount of trouble? I
canít afford a lawyer. My girls are 8 and 9 years old, and Iíd like to get
ó L.A., Calif.
Dear L.A.: Contact your state or county courthouse and find out what
forms are necessary to request a name change for minor children, and follow
whatever additional instructions are required. (Should your ex reappear and
contest this at a later date, you may need to contact a lawyer.) Before taking
this step, however, consider how your girls will feel down the road. They may
be perfectly content to be totally disconnected from their biological father,
but we caution you not to make your animosity toward him part of the package.
When they are older, please allow them to have their background information
should they request it.
Dear Annie: When it comes to relationships, whether family or friends,
Iíve always had to be the one to pursue communication with them. They rarely
call to say hello or ask how things are going.
I recently moved from Tennessee to Indiana and feel like Iím by myself. I
have few friends here. What would you suggest I do?
ó Lonely Hoosier
Dear Hoosier: It
takes time to make friends in a new location. We recommend you get involved in
local activities through your church, community centers, gyms, volunteer
organizations, etc., as well as groups that hold interest for you, such as
choirs, theater troupes, political organizations, book clubs and so on, which
you can find online or through meetup.com.
Some people, like you, are better at maintaining communication than others. But
you also could ask some close friends or family members why they so rarely
call. Sometimes there are problems that can be easily remedied.
Dear Annie: Can I add one more story to the replies to ďFrustrated
with Noise,Ē about children crying in church?
Many years ago, my family and I attended a large church in Groton, Connecticut.
It was always packed to capacity. Sitting in front of us was another family
with small children. As soon as the service started, the child who was sitting
on his parentís lap started screaming demonically. I had never heard any
human being scream that loudly. Neither parent made any attempt to quiet the
child. They sat there like petrified stone.
The child continued screaming as the preacher attempted to give his sermon.
Even though he was using a microphone, he could not override the childís
screaming. Suddenly, the preacher said in a booming voice: ďIn the name of
Jesus Christ, I command you to be quiet!Ē The child stopped screaming
instantaneously, and we didnít hear a peep out of him for the rest of the