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Dear Annie: My 36-year-old stepson, "Greg," acts as if he's married to my husband. It's like a constant battle to outdo me. When my husband and I go on vacation, Greg whines to Daddy that he never takes him anywhere. On Wednesday, which is Greg's day off, he will plan something for lunchtime so my husband will be gone while I'm home. I work second shift. Greg has been horribly spoiled by his mother and father and thinks he's entitled to everything. I have quite a few grandchildren, and Greg doesn't like that his dad spends time with them, so he calls his dog his dad's grandchild and expects him to buy her birthday and Christmas gifts and gifts at different times throughout the year.

I'm ready to snap. For any holiday, Greg will tell his dad where to take him to eat and say, "And don't bring her!" My husband will never stick up for me, and if I try to say something about any of this, he tells me he doesn't want to hear it. I love my husband, but I'm about done with all of this. Help, please! -- Frustrated With Ungrateful Kid

Dear Frustrated With Ungrateful Kid: It sounds as though you're more frustrated with your husband's refusal to stick up for you than you are with anything else. You have to talk with him about how your feelings are hurt when Greg says he does not want you there. Tell your husband that you don't want to have to fight for his time and attention. And to this same end, make sure that you are not being competitive with Greg. For instance, if Greg values his dog almost as a child, you should allow him that and not put down his father's giving the dog some presents. Instead, focus on the attention and love your husband gives to your grandchildren and tell him how much you appreciate it. Your husband tries hard to please Greg and your grandchildren. All that's left is for him to treat you the same way.

Dear Annie: Thanks for saying people who are often late tend to be optimists. I appreciate that characterization, especially because I often cut things very close -- although I usually make it just in time.

I want to share the technique used by many I know for dealing with people who are chronically late: tell them everything starts earlier than it does. That way, they arrive on time, and you don't have to sit around waiting.

If you know the person is always late and value the person's friendship, it's easy to take that into account and adjust your own attitude and behavior. Appreciate the person's good qualities, and forgive the annoying ones. All of us have something we do that bothers someone else. -- Ellen

Dear Ellen: Indeed, we do -- and I'd be out of a job if we didn't.

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Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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