DEAR ANNIE: One of our darling granddaughters started to pull out her eyelashes at around age 9. We expressed our concern to our son. Shortly after, we were told that our granddaughter was seeing a counselor to address this behavior. We were so relieved when she stopped. But about a year later, she started again. Now her 9-year-old brother is pulling hair out of his head.
The marriage and family appear OK. The kids seem happy, and they do well in school. I recently brought up the counseling to our son, but he said, "We tried that." He indicated that the kids will stop on their own.
Is stress causing this? How involved should we get? -- Blue-Collar Grandparents
DEAR GRANDPARENTS: Trichotillomania is a disorder that results in compulsive hair pulling. It is currently considered to be a "body-focused repetitive behavior." There also may be a genetic predisposition, which would explain why both of your grandchildren suffer from it.
Doctors do not know the underlying cause but believe it may develop due to a combination of genetic, hormonal, emotional and environmental factors. Appropriate treatment involves cognitive behavioral therapy, sometimes in combination with medication, hypnosis and relaxation techniques. Your son and his wife may already be taking the necessary steps, but either way, you can get more information through the Trichotillomania Learning Center at trich.org.
DEAR ANNIE: I recently learned a friend's son died from a heart attack. He was relatively young. I was both saddened and shocked.
I was more despondent that my friend and his current (third) wife did not attend his son's funeral. It was his son. We've been friends for more than 50 years, but it makes me realize he wouldn't bother attending my funeral, either.
Annie, should I dissolve our friendship? Should I tell him how shocked and disappointed I am? -- Sensitive, Caring Person
DEAR SENSITIVE: Though not attending his son's funeral seems callous, is it possible your friend has health issues that prevented him from traveling? Might he and his son have been estranged and his presence at the funeral unwelcome? You can let him know you were surprised he didn't attend the funeral, but he is under no obligation to satisfy your curiosity. Limiting the friendship because you believe he no longer cares enough about you is a legitimate concern, but cutting off a 50-year friendship because he might not attend your funeral is excessive. How your friend treats you while you are alive is what counts.
To write to Annie's Mailbox, send to c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.