DEAR ABBY: I gave birth to my daughter three months ago, after 44 grueling hours of labor. My mother, assuming I would want her in the delivery room, booked her flight, flew across the country and stayed at my house without asking when I'd like her to come to help me.
During her stay, she made comments about how she had flown 2,000 miles to "dog-sit" for me, that she knew she wasn't wanted, and had she known my daughter wasn't going to come on time (I was induced), she wouldn't have "wasted her vacation" to fly in early. The entire visit was miserable.
Without consulting my husband and me, she has now booked a flight to come and stay with us for Christmas. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I'm dreading the thought of her being here and worried this visit will be just as awful as the last. I'd like my daughter's first Christmas to be a happy occasion.
I asked my mother to change her flights and come in after the holiday, only to be met with the accusation "you're being selfish" from her and my stepfather. How do I tell them that I don't want them here for Christmas while minimizing hurt feelings? -- PUSHED TOO FAR IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR PUSHED: It appears you not only have a pushy mother, but also one who has no filter. When she made the comments she did when she came to "help" after the delivery, did you tell her how offended you were? Or were you so weak from the struggle to give life that you wilted? If you didn't tell her how you felt, you have a communication problem.
Give your mother one more chance. Welcome her and your stepfather at Christmas and, if she makes a demeaning or unkind comment, CALL her on it! And when you do, tell her that in the future you and your husband prefer to invite your houseguests rather than have them descend upon you.
DEAR ABBY: Because my husband and I are reaching advanced years, we know we will soon have to downsize to a senior living facility. In anticipation, we have begun distributing keepsakes we have accumulated over the years. Many were gifts with special meaning. Some are heirlooms that have been passed down from previous generations.
When I helped my son with his garage sale recently, I was shocked to discover several of the keepsakes on display. I didn't know how to react, but I did speak to him about it. Apparently, he doesn't value them! How should I handle future distribution of keepsakes, as there are more of them, some of which I had intended for him and his family? Apparently, his wife and son also have no interest in them. -- SENTIMENTAL IN WISCONSIN
DEAR SENTIMENTAL: You now have two choices. You can either give the items as gifts to other family members, after first ensuring that they will be appreciated and treasured, or sell them and use the money to cover any expenses that may come up in the future.
P.S. If they have historical value, consider donating them to a museum or your state historical society.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 37-year-old divorced mom of two. I have recently gotten into relationships with two completely different men. One of them, "Steve," has the life I have always wanted, and he says he loves me more than life itself. The other, "Rick," I love more than life itself, but sometimes I have the feeling he doesn't love me as much as I do him.
If I were to love Steve the way I love Rick OR if Rick were to love me the way Steve does, the decision would be clear. I can see myself making a life with either of them. I risk losing either one as a friend if I pick the other one.
They both love my kids, and I love theirs. Both want to build a life with me. How do I decide which path to take? Once I choose, how do I not have questions or doubts about what might have been if I had chosen the other? HELP! -- STUCK IN A LOVE TRIANGLE
DEAR TRIANGLE: You are no more stuck than you want to be. I know what decision I would make if my choice was between a man who loved me more than life itself and who could give me the life I had always dreamed of, and someone I was crazy about but suspected didn't love me as much -- but only you can decide what is right for you and your children. I don't think you should marry either man unless you are confident you can do it without second-guessing yourself.
DEAR ABBY: I am 72 years old and I cry a lot. I'm so resentful of my ex-co-workers and my former friends I can't stand it.
I have lost two cherished wives, two children and one grandchild, while those people still have their first wives and all their children and grandchildren. Why did I have to lose people I loved? I am so full of anger that I no longer believe in God. What am I to do? Do I need therapy? -- OLD AND HATEFUL IN TEXAS
DEAR OLD AND HATEFUL: You have suffered more than your share of loss, and for that, please accept my sympathy. The problem with harboring resentment and anger is that, unchecked, they feed upon themselves and grow. A therapist could be helpful by giving you a safe place to vent those emotions.
It is normal to cry when in emotional pain, but you could also benefit from talking with a grief counselor or joining a grief support group. Your physician may be able to suggest one. Please don't wait.
DEAR ABBY: My child attends a private elementary school. The school is trying to discourage gossip, which can lead to teasing and bullying. The way they do it is, when a child asks a question about another child, the teacher's answer is, "That's none of your business."
Whether I agree with that response is irrelevant because I feel schools have the right to run themselves the way they deem proper. However, isn't there a nicer way to phrase it? I think I remember hearing years ago something like, "Please tend to your own affairs." -- CLAMPING DOWN ON GOSSIP
DEAR CLAMPING DOWN: I agree that whoever wrote the script for those educators was less than tactful. A better way to phrase it would be, "You do YOU, and stop worrying about other people," which might be less harsh.
DEAR ABBY: Seeing a child you love struggle with depression is such a helpless feeling. Parents wonder how to talk to them as they withdraw from the people and activities that used to bring them joy. You just want them to feel better again.
Many times, parents tell themselves it's just a phase their child will grow out of, but one in five teens is affected by depression. It's important for parents to know that children even younger can become depressed, and that girls are twice as likely as boys to experience it. Depressed kids are more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs and are at greater risk for attempting suicide.
To help concerned parents reach out to their hurting children, USA.gov has created the free online-only Kids and Depression guide at www.USA.gov/features/kids-and-depression. The guide's sound, compassionate advice helps parents, grandparents and teachers recognize symptoms and risk factors in young people. It explains treatment options, including counseling and medication. And it also includes age-appropriate information about depression that parents can share with their children, elementary age through college.
Abby, thank you for the love you show your readers, and for sharing this potentially lifesaving guide with them. -- NANCY TYLER, SENIOR EDITOR, USA.GOV
DEAR NANCY: You're welcome. I'm glad you wrote because I receive many letters from worried parents and depressed young people. I know the online guide will provide important information they will find useful.
Risk factors for depression in young people include stressful life events, such as a family member's divorce or death, bullying, trouble with school or friends, low self-esteem, or a disability or chronic illness. Symptoms of depression that last two weeks or more are significant. They may include sensitivity to criticism and outbursts of anger, sadness, headaches or stomachaches, changes in sleep or eating habits, lower grades and withdrawal from people and activities.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2015, 3 million kids aged 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. Because, as you stated, depression can be a significant factor in suicide attempts, the guide provides information to help parents recognize the warning signs of suicidal thoughts in their children.
If you think your child might be suicidal, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling (800) 273-8255. It offers confidential help 24 hours a day.
DEAR ABBY: Should each spouse give an anniversary gift to the other, or is it solely up to the man to arrange for the special occasion and gift-giving? -- SOON-TO-CELEBRATE IN ILLINOIS
DEAR SOON: An anniversary is not a surprise party. When the special occasion arises, celebrating shouldn't be the responsibility of just one spouse. The arrangements can be made by whomever is better at doing it, but gift-giving should be a two-way street.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 50-year-old male engaged to be married to my elementary school sweetheart, "Marie." This will be the second marriage for both of us. We've been dating for six years, three of which were a long-distance relationship.
During a time when her mother became ill and sadly passed, Marie told me God had spoken to her and told her not to be sexually active anymore until we're married. I respect and want to honor her and God, but my concern is that we haven't even discussed a wedding date. The earliest could still be six or eight months away. Am I wrong for feeling resentment toward Marie, and will this resentment create problems after marriage with our bedroom life? -- ON HOLD IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR ON HOLD: You and Marie have known each other for many years, and know each other very well in every sense. Because Marie doesn't want to have intimate relations again until after you are married, you should not only discuss a wedding date, but also an elopement.
DEAR ABBY: My sister takes my nephews for modeling and acting assignments. They have been in print ads, websites for clothing, and even a movie.
I was shocked when she told me her 6-year-old is interviewed without a parent present in the room. The boy is bright, self-possessed and spirited, but still -- he's only 6. Given the recent revelations about industry-wide problems with child sexual abuse ("An Open Secret" documentary), was I out of line to suggest she have a device to listen in and record? -- CONCERNED AUNTIE
DEAR CONCERNED AUNTIE: Better than that, minor children should have a trusted and responsible adult present -- whether it's a parent, another relative or the child's agent. That way, EVERYONE would be protected.
DEAR ABBY: My 24-year-old son, "Jeremy," no longer speaks to me because I asked him to move out. I'm not a fan of his girlfriend, and I'm worried about drugs. Jeremy and I have always been super close. I am so sad and I want to do what's right for both of us. What should I do? -- TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT THING
DEAR TRYING: I don't know how emotionally mature Jeremy is, but chronologically he's an adult. If you suspected that he was using drugs while living with you, you had the right to insist he be tested for them -- the tests are easily obtainable -- as a condition of his continuing to live with you. However, for you to have based living under your roof on the condition that you "liked" his girlfriend was heavy-handed. It was wrong, and for that you should apologize. If you do, perhaps it will give you a chance to mend fences.
DEAR ABBY: We have a relative who is a terrible cook. How can we refuse her invitations when she's only trying to reciprocate? We enjoy her company, but not her food. We have gone out to eat, but she wants to cook for us! What to do? -- SORRY, NOT HUNGRY
DEAR SORRY: You have two choices. Either be honest with her or graciously eat her food as infrequently as possible (and when you do, bring along a dish of your own to add to her dinner).
DEAR ABBY: I have a good male friend whose company I have enjoyed very much. He's outgoing and likes many of the same activities I do. Should I ever need anything, I know he would be there for me.
Unfortunately, this same person is very disrespectful to his wife. He's severely critical of everything she does. I have seen him yell and make disparaging remarks to her, to the extent that I feel it borders on abusive. His wife is a warm, caring, selfless individual who deserves to be loved by someone who appreciates all that she is and does.
Because of the way he treats her, I no longer enjoy being around him. I'd like to remain friends with this couple, but I'm not sure how to. I am very sad about all of this. Please help me. -- ANGUISHED IN ARIZONA
DEAR ANGUISHED: I don't blame you for feeling sad about what you have witnessed. While you would like to continue the friendship, please recognize that unless some changes are made, it isn't going to happen. You would be doing your friend (and his wife) a favor to tell him how bad his verbal abuse makes HIM look and how harmful it is to his wife. And while you're at it, suggest that if they are having problems -- which they obviously are -- they try to work them out with a licensed marriage and family therapist.
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