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Let son in on plans to end his benchwarmer status

Staff report

Dear Annie: We live in a small rural community where sports help keep the kids off of the streets. My 14-year-old son loves sports. He is well-rounded, makes excellent grades and has good friends. This year, he is again on the school basketball team, but he is the only one who sits on the bench. He doesn't say much, but I can tell he is discouraged. While the team has a couple of "stars," most are at the same skill level as my son.

His mother is so upset about this that she wants to go to the school board. Someone mentioned that my son is being punished because he missed a practice during Christmas break. He told his coaches ahead of time that he would be gone. Before the break, he played about one minute per game. He hasn't played at all since.

Should parents step up to the coaches and risk further "punishment"? This is his first year with these particular coaches. Are they just testing him? Why would such terrible treatment make him want to play next year? - Upset Dad

Dear Dad: Some coaches believe this type of punishment is a test of a player's resolve - a "take it like a man" mentality. We think it is ill-advised, particularly at the high school level, and discourages kids who are not into macho mind games. Some schools give coaches complete autonomy over the sports programs, but this can lead to all kinds of abuses. Before getting involved, however, we urge you to discuss this with your son. While he undoubtedly appreciates your support and concern, he may prefer to handle this in his own way, and we hope you will respect his decision.

Dear Annie: Will you speak to my wife of 30 years? She has many wonderful attributes, and I love her. She is, however, late for everything. Our families and friends learned to accept her tardiness for social engagements. But I cannot abide being late for church every week. With all eyes upon us, we must edge past everyone in order to find a seat. I hate doing this after the service has started.

We live only 10 minutes away, so I can't understand why my wife isn't ready on time. Even if she doesn't care about herself, I am humiliated that she has so little regard for me and the people we have to climb over every week to reach a seat. It puts me in the wrong frame of mind for church.

I've told her this is important to me, but she scoffs and does the same thing the following week. Will you please tell her to get ready on time? - Losing My Religion

Dear Losing: Some procrastinators simply have difficulty with organizational skills, and nothing will change if they aren't willing to work on it. But we think your wife enjoys the attention she gets by arriving late to social functions. Since church is a particular issue, we strongly suggest you attend separately. Arrange transportation if necessary, and then go on your own so you can arrive on time. And save a seat for your wife.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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