DEAR ABBY: I'm 35 and have been a widower for almost five years. I began dating about two years ago.
In my adventures of dating I have encountered a lot of divorced moms. I met someone very special (I'll call her Rose) a year and a half ago. She's great. We share lots of laughs and goals, but she does something that drives me crazy. She's constantly showing me Facebook memories/photos of her daughter when she was young.
I never got the chance to have children and rarely bring up my past because I feel that's behind me. Rose's ex is "toxic," according to her, and from what I've witnessed, he's pretty bad.
I see her daughter two weeks out of the month. The girl is very spoiled and entitled, and when she's not around, Rose keeps shoving old photos of her in my face and asking, "Isn't she so cute?"
I can't relate, and I don't care for her daughter. Does that make me a jerk? I feel those old photos of her daughter are really her memories with her ex, and it would be just as bad if I showed photos of my late wife and asked, "Isn't she beautiful?" Am I wrong? -- UNPARENT OUT WEST
DEAR UNPARENT: If you plan to continue a relationship with Rose, you are going to have to deal with your feelings about her daughter, some of which may be off base. It is important that you communicate to her the connection you make when you see those photos. The quickest way to work this through would be couples counseling.
If your description of the girl is accurate, then realize that as long as she's a minor, she will be a presence in your household. If you and her mother can't figure out a workable arrangement, you shouldn't waste any more of Rose's time or yours.
DEAR ABBY: "Ron," the guy my best friend, "Stella," is seeing, is a manipulator. My mother was a pro at manipulating and gaslighting, something I recognized after going to therapy as an adult. I know it when I see it.
A month ago, I told Stella what I have observed, and it has escalated to the point that I told her I no longer want to be around him. Ron, who is 40, throws tantrums and threatens to leave when he doesn't get what he wants.
The last time I saw him was at a dinner Stella hosted. I left early after he threw another tantrum. Ron texted me an "apology" that did not address his behavior that night, but something else that happened a week ago. He then tried to guilt-trip me by saying my walking out hurt our friends and that he would stop hanging around because he didn't want them to be hurt like that.
I haven't responded to Ron's "apology" and haven't seen him since. I have seen Stella for lunch once since the incident. Must I accept his apology so everything goes back to how it was, or not see my friend until he is out of her life? -- NOT A FAN OF HIM
DEAR NOT A FAN: You don't "have" to accept Ron's apology any more than you have to accept any other unappetizing "gift" that is offered. But don't stop seeing Stella. From what you have written, she needs a levelheaded friend right now. If Ron acts up again in your presence, leave if he makes you uncomfortable. And while you're at it, tell Stella the reason and ask -- woman to woman -- why she tolerates his childish threats.
DEAR ABBY: I have a very close friend, "Sandy." Sandy and I talk about everything. She suffers from bi-polar disorder, which, for the most part, is controlled. However, she has hit a downswing.
A few months ago, she volunteered to start babysitting my child, one evening a week for a few hours. Sandy has never had the first complaint about my child or her behavior. Recently, she came over for a visit and unloaded on me. She said she finds my child annoying, that my child has a problem listening and constantly interrupts and complains. I was completely taken aback. Abby, I have never received complaints about my child's behavior, and over the course of the months, Sandy never indicated that something was wrong.
I have been a great friend to her, always welcoming her in my home and helping however I can. I don't know what to do. I am hurt and angry. I feel like she just barged in and insulted my kid. I'm no longer sure I want to remain close to her because of this. Is this characteristic of bi-polar disorder? How do I express my feelings to her without risking having her fly off the handle? Please help! -- HARSH WORDS IN THE SOUTH
DEAR HARSH WORDS: Not having met your child, I am not going to weigh in on whether what Sandy said was a slight. She may have been conveying something she thought you needed to know.
That said, because Sandy finds your child annoying, she should no longer babysit for you. All children interrupt at one point or another. They don't always behave perfectly. I hope you won't take what Sandy told you as an insult worthy of ending a longtime friendship over, particularly knowing the woman has mood swings and has been cycling down.
DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have a 45-year-old nephew who married for the first time two years ago. Before that, he was engaged to a woman I'll call Anita for two years. We assumed the reason for their breakup was she wanted children, and he did not. Last year, we attended Anita's wedding, as we are still friendly with her.
Our nephew was, and still is, furious with us for going. He claims "only 5% of people attend one's ex's wedding." He says we should have been loyal to him and abstained because Anita was a "vicious, lying, rumormonger."
He still emails and calls us, ranting and raving to the point that we might lose the relationship with him forever. We feel we did nothing wrong and were not obligated to get his permission to attend that wedding. What do you think? -- BIG SIN IN OREGON
DEAR "BIG SIN": I think you were right to attend Anita's wedding, in light of the fact that you are still friendly. You didn't need your nephew's permission. I seriously doubt his breakup with Anita had anything to do with whether she and your nephew disagreed about having children. More likely it had everything to do with the fact that your nephew is stubborn and behaves irrationally.
DEAR ABBY: My wife has no friends of her own and no hobbies. She's miserable most of the time, and happiness with her seems fleeting. I think she needs to see a counselor, but she refuses. In couples counseling, when the counselor pushed her on her issues, she quit.
I realize now that she is able to hide these issues from everyday acquaintances. But we have a 1-year-old daughter, and I'm certain that as she gets older, she'll see these issues as well. What do I do? -- LOOKING FORWARD IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR LOOKING: Whether your wife has postpartum depression or longstanding mental health issues I can't guess, but something is not right with her. I think it could benefit you greatly if YOU go back to that counselor, if only to ask for advice on how to handle this situation and provide as healthy an environment for your daughter to grow up in as possible.
DEAR ABBY: I am having issues with one of my good friends. When we hang out one-on-one, she's great. We laugh at just about everything and agree on a lot of different topics. However, when we hang out with other people, it's a different story. It seems as though all attention needs to be on her. It's not something I'm jealous of. It's more an uncomfortable feeling for everyone else. She's almost like a 4-year-old who needs constant attention and all eyes on her.
I enjoy hanging out with her when it's just us because I don't see this side of her, but in groups or even with one other person, it's like it's her world and we are just living in it. We are planning a trip soon, and I feel hesitant about being with her for long periods of time. -- WEARING THIN IN WASHINGTON
DEAR WEARING THIN: I'm puzzled as to why, knowing your friend behaves the way she does, you would be planning a trip with her. Unless it's a road trip -- just the two of you -- I think it could end the friendship. Considering who she is, the less time you spend in groups larger than two, the better.
DEAR ABBY: I'm an adoptive mother who has had more than my fair share of inappropriate comments directed at me and my children. They usually come from strangers or acquaintances. I'm about up to here with them, so I thought I would write you about etiquette for interacting with adoptive families:
Though we may stand out to you, we think of ourselves as a family like any other. Please do NOT start a conversation with us that has the sole purpose of pointing out the obvious. Remember that my children have ears.
Please do not ask questions in front of them about them or their adoption. Don't ask in private unless you are a close friend. Better yet, let me broach the subject.
Please do not ALWAYS comment on my daughters' hair. Yes, it is nicely braided and decorated with beautiful beads. But isn't there something else you can say about them? Maybe just once? And please don't talk in front of them about how hard it must be for me to do their hair. I LOVE braiding it.
Please don't say I am a saint for adopting them. I chose to adopt because I never wanted to have biological children. And please don't say how nice it is for me to love them so much. Why would you expect that I wouldn't love my children?
Please do not pity my children. They have amazing lives, are fiercely loved and have bright futures ahead. And please do not introduce me to others as someone "who has adopted two girls from Africa." Because my daughters are black does NOT mean they are from Africa! I would much prefer you simply say, "Anne has two 8-year-old daughters."
And last, please remember that you and I are both people who love our families, and we have more in common than you might think. -- ANNE FROM CALIFORNIA
DEAR ANNE: Thank you for a great letter. Sometimes well-meaning people simply don't think about the impact their words can have when they begin a conversation. I hope my readers will take your words to heart because they are valid.
DEAR ABBY: While separating photographs after my divorce from my wife, I found some photographs of relatives' and friends' weddings. Is there any protocol on what to do with them? In some cases, the marriages (and friendships) have ended, so I assume I should just dispose of them, correct? I will send my ex-wife any photos of her and her family, but none that include my family. Is this the right way to go?
We don't live in the same area anymore, and our families were never close. I would be interested to hear what you think should be done with family photos that include me, my ex-wife and our children. Should they go just to the children? I am in a new committed relationship, and I do not wish to keep any photos of my ex for any reason. Can you please help? -- NEEDS TO KNOW IN NEW YORK
DEAR NEEDS TO KNOW: Send the family pictures to your children and instruct them to share them with your ex IF she would like to have them. If you still have a relationship with the friends and relatives, inform them that you found the photos and ask if they would like to have them. That would be the considerate thing to do.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married 30 years. I recently retired, and we are planning a cruise to Europe and a two-month stay, returning on the same cruise line. The cruise line is rather posh, and travelers are asked to "dress appropriately" -- which means, essentially, men should wear a jacket to dinner (no tie required).
My husband is balking at the idea he should have to wear a jacket on his vacation and now says he won't go. Abby, we have already invested several hundreds of dollars in deposits, so what do I do? I'd rather not spend 14 days at sea with a husband whining over wearing a jacket for 30 minutes a day and end up dining alone (we reserved a table for two so we wouldn't be stuck making small talk). We are cruising because he will not fly. -- TEXAS WIFE
DEAR TEXAS WIFE: You have already accommodated your husband by booking a cruise instead of flying. Could his problem be that his jackets no longer fit him? If that's the case, buy him one that does. However, if his objection is that he really doesn't want to GO, why not take your husband up on his offer to stay home and ask one of your girlfriends to accompany you? Then all three of you might have a better time.
DEAR ABBY: I am 61 and dating a 63-year-old man, "Charles." I live in my own apartment, pay my own bills, and I like and enjoy life. Charles is constantly over at my apartment and ends up falling asleep for hours at a time. It irritates me when he sleeps six, seven and even eight hours at my place. I feel he has a place of his own, and he should be doing that there.
He has told me numerous times that he doesn't feel safe at his apartment because of the neighborhood. He says that is why he is spending time with me. I like my alone time, which I don't have often. Prior to him, I wasn't in a relationship for seven years.
I feel that Charles is needy. Am I being unreasonable? I don't think I am, and it always ends up in an argument. If you could please give me some advice, I would appreciate your input. -- NOT HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS
DEAR NOT HOTEL: Wake up and smell the coffee. Charles told you he spends all that time with you because he doesn't feel safe in his apartment, NOT because he loves your company so much he cannot stay away. What did he do before he met you?
From where I sit, it appears he's angling to move in. It isn't unreasonable to want your own space, particularly if you are the one paying for it, while he snores away the hours. If the status quo isn't what you want, it is up to you to change it.
DEAR ABBY: My wife's family drops by our home several times a week, usually unannounced. I don't mind them dropping in, but what does bother me is they bring their kids and expect us to feed them during the visits. It has gotten to the point that I hide our snacks and beverages in the bedroom because if I leave them in the cupboard, they disappear. They often end up eating the leftovers I had planned to be my lunch for the next day.
I have talked with my wife several times about this situation. She agrees with me, but she says there's nothing she can do about it. I wasn't brought up that way. I would never think of going to someone's home, opening up cupboards and helping myself to food without an invitation. Also, I'm retired and on a fixed income. Am I overreacting, and must I just keep my mouth shut? -- FRUSTRATED IN THE WEST
DEAR FRUSTRATED: This is your wife's family, and she is the one who should deal with this. All she has to say is she would appreciate it if her relatives ASK when they'd like some food or drinks because their foraging through your cupboards has created a problem for the two of you.
DEAR ABBY: For the past few years I have encountered a problem with cashiers in stores. I pay with cash and generally have change coming back to me. When the cashiers return my change, they hand it back in one big wad along with the receipt. When this happens, I must stop, lay everything down on the counter and separate the different denominations. Then I have to place the different bills into my wallet.
I have tried asking them to place the receipt into the bag, but they usually don't listen. Also, some of them reach for the next customer while I'm still putting my change away. It is so frustrating! Is there something I can do differently? -- BOTHERED IN MARSHALL, TEXAS
DEAR BOTHERED: I have two suggestions. The first is to discuss your concerns with the store manager. The second is to shop elsewhere.
DEAR ABBY: I want to thank people who are kind, generous, big-hearted and considerate. Those unsung heroes deserve all the kudos we can give them, and they rarely receive the praise they are due. It would be a lot more difficult to get through life without folks like them. I don't think I'd be alive today if not for the kindness they have shown me. To each and every one of you: From the bottom of my heart -- thank you! -- HELPED BEYOND MEASURE IN NEVADA
DEAR HELPED: I am glad you took the time to write to point out that good manners and compassion are alive and well, and demonstrated every day. Yes, there are individuals who are self-centered and others who were never taught the values you mentioned -- but many times I encounter individuals who practice the virtues you are lauding. Extending kindness to someone is beneficial not only for the recipient, but for the giver as well.
DEAR ABBY: Two years ago, I had a miscarriage. The guy was nothing more than a fling. We were careful and never did anything without protection, but it happened anyway.
I have now been in a relationship with a really great guy for four months. I said I wanted to take it slow, and he has been very supportive, but we are both getting antsy to move to the next step of intimacy. My problem is, I can't seem to stop having anxiety attacks when I think about the possibility of getting pregnant again, even using two forms of birth control. Neither of us wants kids now or in the future. How do I get past this fear? -- WORRIED IN WYOMING
DEAR WORRIED: A way to do that would be to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about what your options would be for using a long-term form of birth control such as a slow-release implant or an IUD.
If your state had a Planned Parenthood clinic nearby, I would normally recommend going there. However, when I checked online, I was shocked to discover there is no longer a clinic in your entire state, which means you may have to go as far as Colorado to find one.
DEAR ABBY: I am increasingly frustrated with a colleague's daily demeanor. She's a supervisor in my department, although I no longer report directly to her. But my office is adjacent to hers, and I see her frequently.
Every day when she arrives, I greet her with my standard, "Good morning, how are you?" and she replies with a heavy sigh and some vague remark about how tired she is or some other general complaint. Even if I don't ask about her welfare, she will still offer the same negative remarks. She does this with other co-workers as well. Is there an effective response I can offer that would help her to reframe, or at least stop with the heavy martyrdom? -- TIRED OF HEARING IT
DEAR TIRED: Because she constantly volunteers (with a heavy sigh) that she's "tired," consider pointing out that she has been saying this same thing for a long time and suggest she consult a doctor about it. The one thing you should definitely stop doing is personalizing it the way it appears you do.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, a successful attorney, and I are in our 50s and have been married 10 years. He is an educated man. The problem: He does not like to wash his hands.
I often ask him to please wash his hands when he exits the bathroom, but he refuses. He sees no problem with it. He also has no problem sticking his bare hands in the candy jar or any other dish with food in it. Not only is this unsanitary, but I find it disgusting.
What are your thoughts? I've done away with the candy jar, but this happens at dinner, too. -- WASH UP! IN ILLINOIS
DEAR WASH: Your husband should wash his hands after using the bathroom, if only out of respect for your feelings. That he refuses speaks volumes about him. I would suggest having sanitary wipes on your dinner table, but he would probably refuse to use them.
Doing away with the candy dish was smart. Now it's time to plate your husband's food for him in the kitchen so that his fingers won't touch the communal food. And if he pitches a fit, plate your own so he can't touch it.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are not on the same page about helping with the grandkids. We moved here six years ago to be closer to my daughter, her husband and their two daughters. The older one is 9, and the younger is 6.
Although the 6-year-old has multiple physical challenges and developmental delays, our son-in-law thinks "we" babysit far too often. My intention is to help my daughter with the challenges that a special needs child presents to the family. Mostly, I am the one providing the care; my husband does the minimum.
Every time I agree to watch the children, I feel huge stress because I know my son-in-law will complain about it. It's tearing me apart. Thank you for listening. Just writing this helps. -- HELPING IN THE EAST
DEAR HELPING: I agree that parenting a child with special needs is challenging. You are a loving, caring mother and grandmother, but this is something your daughter and her husband have to reach a meeting of the minds about. The last thing she needs is dissension in her household. Counseling for them might help your son-in-law understand that your daughter's health might be compromised if she does everything herself. Some sort of compromise about your level of involvement could be key.
As to your husband, I'm not sure what more you think he should be doing. He agreed to move closer to your daughter so you could help her. It has to have been disruptive for him. Please give him points for that, because I do.
DEAR ABBY: I have a couple of weddings coming up, and I have a small dilemma. They are both in my husband's family and only a month apart. One is his brother's, and the other is his cousin's. My question is, can I wear the same dress to both weddings?
I normally don't care about what people think, but I also don't want to be the subject of ridicule or scorn at a family event. I'll also add, it's not about financial concerns. It's just that it's a beautiful dress, and I really don't see the point in going out and getting another fancy dress. I worry about pictures at both weddings. I guess I'm confused and could really use some advice. -- BEAUTIFUL DRESS IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR BEAUTIFUL DRESS: You are not a Hollywood actress during awards season, who "must" have a radically different look for each ceremony. Your family weddings are special events, but there is no reason you can't use the dress you have in mind for both. If you're afraid it may cause a problem in wedding photos, consider accessorizing your dress differently for each one -- gold jewelry for the first, silver for the second and a different colored shawl or wrap. I'm sure you can pull this off. Please write back and let me know.
DEAR ABBY: I've been friends with "Brenda" for nearly 40 years. We've had our share of tough times, but I've always been a good friend to her even though it felt one-sided. The last straw for me was a few months ago, when I had major surgery.
I didn't hear from her for three weeks, and when she did call, she talked about her life the whole time and showed no interest in how I was doing. Brenda has now had major surgery. Two weeks have gone by, and I haven't called her. I want her to have a taste of her own selfish medicine.
I have been upfront with her in the past that she hasn't always been there for me. She apologizes but nothing changes. Am I being too sensitive about her lack of caring about anyone but herself? -- OVER IT IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR OVER IT: I don't think so. But if you step back and review your relationship with Brenda, you will realize that it has always been this way. Perhaps it's time to reevaluate whether maintaining the kind of relationship you have with her is worth the effort because, after 40 years, she isn't going to change. Either accept her as she is or move on.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 16 and have had trouble with romance for as long as I can remember. I've had almost 80 crushes since kindergarten. I counted.
Right now I am close to a relationship with a boy at my school who is a year older. I have had feelings for "Ben" for almost a year, and I found it was mutual a few months ago. He invited me to coffee but later canceled, explaining that he wasn't emotionally prepared, which was clear. He feels the way he does for a reason. Ben is a transgender male, and his mother disapproves, as do many of our classmates.
Two months ago, we agreed to be "just friends ... for now." Since then, no feelings have changed for either of us. However, I know Ben still isn't ready, largely because of his mother's and his classmates' influence.
I'm getting impatient. I've been in relationships before, the middle-school kind, and I know how my brain functions. Right now, I worry obsessively about how he feels. This will subside after a real relationship starts. But before that happens, the issue is all-consuming. I constantly rehash concerns we need to talk about in my mind, and I don't know how to ignore them until we can speak again. It makes my grades suffer.
I blame Ben's mother and classmates for the stress he's under. They're the reason for his dysphoria and panic attacks. I'm angry. I want her to leave her son alone. How can I wait peacefully and get over my bitterness toward his mother? -- CRUSHING TEEN IN OHIO
DEAR TEEN: Anger, frustration and bitterness can make people sick. You need to find ways to get your mind off this budding romance and channel these negative emotions, if only because Ben isn't ready for what you have in mind. Bear in mind that he is on a long and complicated journey. (Give him props for honesty.) Then buckle down and concentrate on your schoolwork, find a sport or other activity you can involve yourself in and, if your school doesn't have a Genders and Sexualities Alliance, consider going online to gsanetwork.org and starting one at your school.
DEAR ABBY: I work in the medical field in a family practice. I love my job and helping people, but the problem is, my boss never tells the truth to our patients and overcharges them anytime he gets a chance. The sicker the patient, the more heartless he is with them. He has told some patients that we, the assistants, told him they owe him money.
It has reached a point where I cannot handle it anymore. Knowing that I see everything he does, he now can't stand me and constantly criticizes everything I do. He has become verbally aggressive and abusive.
I know this is unhealthy for me. I have insomnia because of it, and when I do get to sleep, I have nightmares about this situation. Abby, please help me because I do not know what service to contact to make a complaint against him. -- SCARED IN GEORGIA
DEAR SCARED: Document everything you have observed. Then talk to your local police about possible fraud being committed by your employer. Next, contact your state medical board and report what has been going on at the expense of the patients. If these patients are senior citizens, reach out to your Area Agency on Aging (aging.georgia.gov/locations), because the "good doctor" may be committing elder abuse, which could land him in the prison system.
DEAR ABBY: I coordinated and paid for a 70th birthday party for my terminally ill husband. Fourteen people were invited, and seven of them were related to my only sister, "Carla."
During the dinner, her husband was rude to the waitress and at the end of the party was screaming and yelling at Carla over the valet parking ticket. As they left the restaurant, he shoved her. He then got in their car and left my sister and her stepdaughters (from a previous marriage) standing there. They had to order a rideshare to get home.
I texted her later to be sure she and the girls had arrived safely. She said yes and told me she would talk to me the next day. When I didn't hear from her, I followed up. The next time we talked, she acted like nothing had happened! When I pursued the discussion and asked what prompted his strange behavior, she said, "I don't know what to tell you." I said, "You don't know?" and she replied, "I didn't say that. I said I don't know what to tell YOU."
After a lengthy discussion, I told her that unless we had some assurance that the incident wouldn't be repeated, we didn't want to see her husband again. She said it wouldn't be a problem. I have invited her to numerous family events, and she comes solo, but now she is blaming me for "tearing the family apart." What can I do now, if anything? -- IN A MESS IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR IN A MESS: Your sister is apparently married to an abuser with a short fuse and has resigned herself to it. She has my sympathy, but she should not blame you for any of it. She could really use some help from a support group for abused partners, because things will not get better. If you prefer not to see her horror of a husband, stand your ground and do not allow yourself to be guilted or coerced into it. He owes all of you an apology.
DEAR ABBY: I am engaged to a wonderful, sweet, hard-working 30-year-old man. We get along well and make each other happy. The trouble is how he comes across to others. He is so eager to be friends that he opens up much too quickly, revealing and venting about things like his work problems. It makes people uncomfortable.
He has been called out on it several times by various people (some even straight-up called him "creepy"), and he will stop for a while. But he falls into the same pattern the next time he meets somebody new. This whole thing is made worse by his anxiety; when someone calls him out on this behavior, he experiences crippling panic attacks. They cause him to apologize profusely, which only exacerbates the problem.
He refuses to seek therapy or treatment for his anxiety. I am at a loss about how to help him, other than listen to his troubles and offer support when I can. What should I do? -- CHALLENGED FIANCEE
DEAR FIANCEE: Your fiance may be a great guy, but unless you want to spend your life with a partner who refuses to get help for his emotional problems and doesn't seem to learn from his mistakes, it may be time to step back and reevaluate this relationship. Much as you would like to, you can't fix what's wrong with him. Only he can do that. If you marry him, the chances are you will wind up as socially isolated as he is. What a shame.
DEAR ABBY: I have had a serious boyfriend for six months. He's wonderful, a dream come true. But I find myself more depressed and suicidal than ever. Mom tells me I don't have any reason to be depressed since I have a boyfriend. It's like she thinks I have no right to still be despondent over my twin's death because I now have a significant other.
My eating disorder and self-harm have gotten worse, too. I feel like I'm holding in so much sadness I'm not allowed to show that I'm turning it all inward in self-destructive ways. Although I love my boyfriend, I almost feel like breaking up just so everyone won't expect me to be Pollyanna anymore. The third anniversary of my twin's suicide is coming, which is making everything more unbearable. I just don't know what to do. I just want to disappear. -- THINGS AREN'T OK
DEAR THINGS: If your mother truly believes a death in the family (particularly a twin!) is something that can be "fixed" by having a boyfriend, she is deluding herself. You need professional help and right away. There are support groups for survivors of a family member's suicide, and you are three years overdue for finding one. I urge you to contact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Someone there can help you to locate a support group for the survivors of a loved one's suicide. To find them, go online to afsp.org.
If you are feeling suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and tell a counselor about what's going on. If you do, you can be directed to a licensed therapist in your community who can help. The toll-free number to call is 800-273-8255. PLEASE do not put it off.
DEAR ABBY: My daughter and I have been estranged on and off for many years, most recently for the last 22 months. At that time, she angrily took her 8-year-old daughter and left our home, where she had been living since another eviction. She said she was going to tell everyone I kicked her out. Then she blocked me on Facebook, removed my access to my granddaughter's classroom progress reports and my name from the school emergency card. I had no idea where they went. My poor granddaughter was in tears. She had been upset moving back in with us again, and told me she wished her mom would get a job so they could stay in one place for real.
After no contact, I have been told my daughter is being married. "Save the date" cards have gone out. I have no desire or intention of going to a wedding of someone who has spent half her life being cruel to me, lying, ignoring me, being jealous at her sister's wedding and so on, with never an apology for her horrible behavior. She's a Jekyll and Hyde.
We live in the same community, and I do all I can to avoid seeing her. I'm happy for her and delighted my granddaughter will finally have a bedroom of her own, but I have no intention of playing happy family to someone who regularly sharpens knives in my back. How do I answer any inquiries that may come up about the wedding? -- CAN'T TAKE ANY MORE
DEAR CAN'T: Do not engage in a litany of complaints and accusations. You can get the message across to anyone who asks about the wedding by saying that you are not involved in the planning of the wedding and questions should be directed to your daughter. You do not have to discuss it further. It's short and sweet and gets the message across.
DEAR ABBY: I recently found out I am pregnant. I'm only 17 and scared I won't be a good mother. I'm also anxious about giving birth. I'm due in three months, so I know time is going by fast.
My mother never taught me right from wrong, and having to raise a child at my age is really scary. I don't want to give my baby up for adoption because I know God does things in mysterious ways. I feel like this is an obstacle he is putting me through to make me stronger in life. Can you give me some advice on how to be a good mother or guide me on how to give my child the necessities? -- CONCERNED TEENAGE MOTHER
DEAR CONCERNED: You will be facing challenging circumstances. Consider talking to a social worker at the hospital where you will give birth for advice on how to get the necessities for your baby. It is more important now than ever to complete your education by getting your high school diploma or a GED, so you will be able to better support the child. A trusted teacher or counselor at school may be able to guide you. If there are older, more experienced family members who are willing, they may be able to offer emotional and practical support. And, if possible, the baby's father should be involved.
DEAR ABBY: I recently quit drinking because it was clearly becoming a problem for me. I was hiding alcohol, putting it in water bottles, drinking it like water, etc.
I struggle with anxiety, which makes AA not a viable option for me. I looked online and was able to find SMART Recovery. So far, it has been a valuable resource for me. I am sticking to the program and find the people online to be supportive and helpful.
My struggle is, because I had been drinking for so long, people judge me by my past. Even at home. How do I get to a point where people take me for who I am now and stop dwelling on the past? -- SOBERING REALITY
DEAR SOBERING: I applaud you for recognizing you had a problem and doing something about it. You mentioned that you "recently" quit drinking. I wish you had mentioned how long ago because it may have something to do with how you are being treated now.
All you can do to change people's perception of you is sincerely apologize and try to make amends to anyone you may have hurt or offended while you were under the influence. It may take time for them to trust that you are no longer the person you were, so be patient and continue to work on your sobriety. With time, you WILL be respected for the person you are now.
DEAR ABBY: Can you think of any way to tell social media friends that I am not interested in their political views? I respect everyone's political beliefs, but I am very tired of politics, and there must be something else they can post. Should I "unfollow" these people until after the elections and hope for the best? I suspect I am not alone on this. Any help would be much appreciated! -- "WAR" WEARY IN ARKANSAS
DEAR WEARY: These days it does seem like everyone's a pundit, but you cannot dictate what others choose to post. Because the posts are not entertaining, I see nothing wrong with "hiding" their posts until the election season is over.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Charlie," and I have been married for seven years. We are in our mid-60s. This is the second marriage for both of us. He was widowed some years before we met. We have a good marriage. He is sweet and caring, but one issue causes friction between us. It's about letters he and his late wife exchanged.
They were high school sweethearts. She kept all the letters he sent her when he was away in college, and after she died, he wanted to keep them. It bothers me that he's still attached to them. Whenever we talk about the subject and I ask him to dispose of them, he gets defensive, says he doesn't understand why it bothers me and accuses me of being unreasonable. He says I don't even "let" him have a picture of his late wife among our family pictures around the house. My first marriage was very troubled, and I never wanted a picture of my late husband. But Charlie's was a happy one.
Am I unreasonable, or is it time to let the past stay in the past, as painful as it might be to detach from objects that were an intimate part of his previous marriage? -- REASONING IN ILLINOIS
DEAR REASONING: Why have you not accepted that Charlie had a life before fate intervened, took his wife and you entered the picture? People who had miserable first marriages -- as yours was -- often choose not to remarry. Charlie is who he is in part because of his happy marriage to his first wife. You are making a mistake by competing with her. Stop insisting that he get rid of the old letters, which hold great sentimental value for him. And if he would like to display a photo of his late wife, quit giving him heartburn. She's part of his history, and it's his house, too.
DEAR ABBY: I am being married in a couple of months. I feel like I'm living a real-life fairy tale -- but not always in a good way. My fiance's stepfamily has made it clear that they do not approve of our union. They have gone as far as to ask me to leave him. He is appalled by their behavior and has told them they are no longer welcome in our lives or at our wedding. They were livid and blamed me.
I don't want my wedding to be the cause of pain, so I have tried to be understanding, gracious and forgiving, but they are toxic people. My fiance is my very own real-life Prince Charming, and I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with him.
Abby, I am terrified they are going to show up to our wedding anyway or try to somehow sabotage it. What should I do? If they show up, should I let them stay or have them removed? How do I prevent them from intruding in the future? -- CINDERELLA IN NEW ENGLAND
DEAR CINDERELLA: Allow me to congratulate you and your fiance on your upcoming nuptials and offer my sympathy for your grief, which is undeserved. You may need to hire professional security to ensure the peace, or see if security is provided at the venue. The way to prevent unwanted intruders in the future would be to move as far away from his family as is feasible.
DEAR ABBY: After an abusive relationship ended 14 years ago, I stayed single and raised my small son to adulthood. I dated here and there, but never found anyone I had serious feelings for who also felt the same way about me until seven months ago.
My feelings for my boyfriend are strong, and it's mutual. He is giving, kind, caring, hardworking and protective. We are very much in love. He tells me he feels like he can be himself around me, something he has never had before. I've never had anyone care so much about my well-being.
We talk about everything and differ on only one point so far. I'm in education and an LGBTQ ally. He feels strongly that nature dictates that only a man and a woman belong together, and he says he hates gay people. (We both grew up in very small, conservative communities.)
Now that my son is older, I plan to use my experiences to be a stronger voice on education issues regarding tolerance and improving learning outcomes for all by instilling conflict resolution principles in my educational practices. I'm not changing my view on this, but I want to continue for us to love and support each other.
Should I tell my boyfriend I understand where he's coming from based upon where and how we were raised? Do you think down the road our basic principles will drive us apart? We have been talking about buying a house in the country together, although neither of us has intentions of marriage anytime soon. -- HESITATING IN ILLINOIS
DEAR HESITATING: You should absolutely talk to your boyfriend about your plan to become an outspoken LGBTQ ally and more active in your profession. When you become more visible, do you plan to separate your career and your personal life? It appears you are willing (and able) to respect him, and understand why he feels the way he does. But is he willing to do the same for you, and will his conservative convictions negatively affect how you plan to live your life?
It is VERY important that this issue be resolved BEFORE investing in real estate with him -- as well as any more precious time. A professional mediator may be able to help with the conversation if you can't do this by yourselves.
DEAR ABBY: My two grandchildren, 12 and 16, used to spend a lot of time with my husband and me, staying overnight, going on trips, etc. As they have gotten older, I recognize that they will naturally want to spend less time with us old folks.
My problem is, when I send them texts to invite them for lunch or out somewhere for the day, they don't respond or just respond with an IDK (I don't know). My question: Should I ask again to get an answer before the scheduled lunch or trip, or should I just forget it and assume they don't want to be involved with us? -- SAD MEMAW IN FLORIDA
DEAR SAD: You have asked an intelligent question, but you are asking the wrong person. The people you should be asking are your grandchildren, and when you do, it should be face-to-face.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069
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