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Dear Annie: Expecting perfection

Dear Annie: I married a generous, kind and funny man three years ago. “Brent” has no children, but I have two sons from my abusive previous marriage who are now 18 and 15. Their father has little to do with us, and I’ve had my share of problems raising the boys. We have attended counseling many times.

The problem is that Brent cannot see anything positive about my children. He expects perfection and cannot forgive them for any mistakes. He also believes they are guilty unless they can prove themselves innocent.

Brent is a very giving person when it comes to everyone else, but he feels my children don’t deserve anything from him. My older son has asked to borrow tools when working on his car, and Brent says no. Last year, we attended counseling as a family, but unfortunately, Brent has forgotten much of the advice.

I have considered ending my marriage on more than one occasion, but I do love this man and am more happy with him than not. Right now I am — At Wits’ End in Hawaii

Dear Hawaii: These are your children. If Brent refuses to treat them with greater kindness and civility, we wonder why you think he is so wonderful. Your 18-year-old is probably ready to move out, but the 15-year-old is going to be living with you for a few more years. You must work this out now.

Go back to family counseling and inform the counselor that Brent has difficulty sticking to the program. Then make sure Brent realizes how crucial this is for the health of your marriage. Any man who professes to care for his wife should make a genuine effort to get along with those whom she loves.

Dear Annie: I am an 18-year-old female and recently attended a music festival in my area. Some friends asked if I would drive a group of us to the festival since it was more than 35 miles away. Reluctantly, I agreed.

The festival cost $21 as an entrance fee, along with food and a parking fee, not to mention gas. Each of the three passengers in my car agreed to pay a portion of the $11 parking fee, but when it came time to pay up, I was given only a dollar or two by each one, leaving me to pay the rest. When I asked them to pitch in a few dollars for the $20 gas bill, they acted offended. Was it too much for me to ask for gas money in return for the ride? — Broke in California

Dear Broke: Of course not. Your cheapskate friends should have offered to split the gas and parking fees equally. Real friends would have insisted on it.

Dear Annie: Millions of children will head back to school this fall without one essential item: health care coverage. Many of the 8.4 million uninsured children in the United States are eligible for low-cost or free health care coverage through Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Unfortunately, their parents may not realize their children qualify for this coverage. That’s why Covering Kids & Families, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is getting the word out to parents that these programs are available and their kids may be eligible. Although eligibility varies, on average, a family of four earning up to $38,000 a year or more may qualify.

As kids everywhere head back to school, let’s get the word out. Parents can call toll-free 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669) to find out if their children are eligible. Thank you for helping us connect kids with the health care coverage they need. — Sarah Shuptrine, National Program Director, Covering Kids & Families

Dear Sarah Shuptrine: We’re glad to do it. If any of our readers think their children may qualify for this program, we hope they will call today or visit www.coveringkidsandfamilies.org.

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