DEAR ABBY: I'm an avid video game player. My husband and I bond over playing games, reading and talking about them. In fact, in my spare time, I just earned a master's degree in video game culture.
The issue I have is people judge my hobby as "a waste of time" or comment that I should read a book instead. I don't tell them I read a book a week because I shouldn't have to justify what I do with my time. I have a good job and a wonderful, stable marriage, yet people consider me immature because of video games.
Abby, video games are incredible works of art that tell amazing stories and allow players to experience a host of worlds and narratives that can be inspiring. Many people make lifelong friendships through online gaming or learn new skills through educational games.
What can I say to people who dismiss my hobby as a waste while claiming that reading the latest trashy vampire book or going out every Friday and Saturday night to get wasted is "really living"? -- PROUD GAMER GIRL
DEAR PROUD GAMER: A master's degree in video game culture is impressive. People who regard you as lazy or lacking in motivation are ignorant. Video game design has become a well-established industry. In fact, it's akin to the film industry in that the creative process requires an education similar to -- but even more extensive than -- that offered in film schools. Rather than try to convince those who tell you how to spend your time, focus your energy on what works for you and spend less of it around negative individuals.
DEAR ABBY: I have a problem: I don't have a mouth filter and haven't since childhood. I bullied people in the past because of how I was bullied and deliberately hurt people to prevent them from hurting me. At work, I did it to the point that a co-worker called me the b-word and threatened to punch me in the mouth if I did it again. I take full responsibility. I deserved it.
Abby, as an adult, I have become meaner and more bitter and hurtful than I was as a child. Please give me some advice because I'm afraid I'm going to be worse in the future. -- GUILTY AND SAD
DEAR GUILTY AND SAD: You are not going to become worse in the future because you now realize you have a serious problem and are willing to do something about it. Awareness is the first step in fixing it. An anger management class could be a good start.
With practice, you can develop a filter. Rather than reflexively lashing out, start consciously cultivating kindness. If you do that, you'll be amazed at how quickly it will grow. Rather than criticize, first ask yourself, "Is what I'm going to say true? Is it helpful? Is it kind?" And if it's not all three -- don't say it.
DEAR ABBY: My son, a junior in college, is trying to get a summer job. His degree is challenging, and he has a good work ethic plus job experience. Because he hasn't had much luck applying online, I have been calling local businesses to see what's available while he's working hard at school.
A problem I'm encountering is something I never had to deal with in my own job search. It's companies asking if he wants an internship. They say they can't pay him to train him. Can you explain the basis of this response? -- WANTS TO KNOW IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR WANTS TO KNOW: The basis may be economic. The companies don't want to spend the money on an intern, particularly one who exhibits such little initiative that his mother has to call to inquire about a job for him. Keep in mind that some internships have been known to lead to permanent positions. Your son may have better luck if he places the calls himself.
DEAR ABBY: What is proper when hosting guests from out of state? In a few months, two different relatives will be visiting me separately, each for two weeks. For years it has been my custom to go to church early on Sunday and then to brunch with friends. I don't mind giving up the brunch, but I don't want to miss church for an entire month. (I'm a widow now and I enjoy the fellowship.)
One relative is a non-churchgoer, and the other is a Jehovah's Witness. Neither will attend with me even though I invite them. (I tried that.) How do I handle this? -- CHURCH OR NO CHURCH
DEAR C. OR N.C.: Having houseguests does not mean you are shackled together the entire time they stay with you. Because you have "tried that" and your offer was rejected, they already know you like to attend church.
Handle the situation by telling them you will be going to early services on Sunday and then to brunch with some of the church members afterward. If you're worried about feeding your houseguests, tell them there will be lox, bagels and cream cheese waiting in the fridge when they get up -- something from almost every food group.
DEAR ABBY: I have a slightly different version of a "Pennies From Heaven" letter for you.
My darling grandmother would often tell my brother and me she had a "Yankee dime" for us -- which meant a kiss. Not long after her death, I started finding shiny dimes in the strangest places -- under birthday gifts, by the Christmas tree and in my kitchen (which is my happy place). My heart fills as the dimes continue to pile up. I save them all.
If I had a penny for every Yankee dime I got while growing up, I'd be very rich. -- SUZANNE IN OCALA, FLA.
DEAR SUZANNE: You ARE rich! You were blessed to have had a grandmother who loved you and your brother and demonstrated it every chance she got. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind.
DEAR ABBY: A colleague of mine was let go a few days ago and it shocked us all. I imagine it was even more shocking to her. She seemed to have a good deal of responsibility outside of her normal role, and from what we saw, she was excellent at her job.
We weren't close friends outside of work, but we would text each other now and again and I consider her someone I would like to keep in touch with. Would it be inappropriate to text her and offer my condolences? -- ETIQUETTE ADVICE IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR ETIQUETTE: You are entitled to a personal life outside the office. I don't think it would be inappropriate to reach out to her on your own time. As long as you don't discuss it at work, it is your business and no one else's.
DEAR ABBY: Our son-in-law, "Brody," has a very different lifestyle than ours and the one in which we raised our daughter. I pointed it out to her while they were dating, and she was not pleased. I decided to say no more and try to accept him as best as possible, although I admit my husband has been better at it than I have.
One thing that continues to bother us is that whenever we invite them out for dinner, Brody will order the most expensive thing on the menu. He also has a couple of drinks, upgrades his salad and orders dessert. By the time he's done, the cost of his meal is double that of everyone else's.
Although we can afford it, we feel this is bad manners. I'm not sure if he's trying to take advantage of us or if he just thinks he is entitled. Our daughter thinks he's wonderful and doesn't seem to mind that he does this. I worry that it may reflect badly on her when they are out with others. Is this acceptable? Do we grin and bear it? Or should we say something and, if so, what do we say? -- PAYING DEARLY IN MONTANA
DEAR PAYING: If you bring the subject up, I can almost guarantee that what you say will not be well received. What your son-in-law is doing is "acceptable" in light of the fact that you say you can afford it. If you couldn't, I assume those dinner invitations would be few and far between, and you would have had to explain the reason to your daughter. When they dine out with contemporaries, presumably the bill is split between the couples. If that isn't the case, it probably wouldn't happen twice because the other couple would likely request separate checks.
DEAR ABBY: I am the editor of a local newspaper and manage two others. Your message (March 27) about it being "too late" to run a wedding announcement is nonsense. We regularly receive announcements six to seven months after weddings. Also, the announcement does not have to be submitted by the couple. Grandparents or parents in the community can send them, too.
Young people today think that once something is on social media it is "official," forgetting that not everyone is on social media, and not everyone is connected to their profiles. So please tell the person who wrote that letter to send in that wedding announcement and enjoy having the hard copy memento of a happy occasion. I wouldn't be surprised if someday those newlyweds will be very happy to have a physical copy of their announcement. -- NEWSPAPER LADY IN KANSAS
DEAR NEWSPAPER LADY: I'm glad you wrote because I'm sure many readers will benefit from it. However, the writer of that letter stated that her daughter-in-law said she didn't want the announcement in the newspaper and her son agreed. I cannot "bless" the writer going against their wishes, which were made clear.
DEAR ABBY: I have been married to a loving and supportive man for 15 years. We have been through a lot together and, for the most part, have been OK. My problem is my son, "Kyle."
Yes, I know Kyle is a liar who steals anything not nailed down. And yes, he needs help for his drug habit -- but he is still my son.
My husband told me I either tell Kyle he is not welcome in our home or our marriage is over, so I gave him back my wedding ring. I refuse to tell my son he can't come over.
What do I do now? I don't want to lose my husband, but I refuse to lose my son as well. -- TORN IN TWO IN TULSA
DEAR TORN IN TWO: If you love your son and your husband and value your marriage, you will tell your husband you spoke hastily and ask for the ring back. Then, you will finally put your foot down and stop enabling Kyle to continue his drug habit.
Tell Kyle he is no longer welcome in the house, and will be welcome to cross your threshold ONLY if he has completed rehab and is willing to make amends. This is called creating boundaries. It may be painful, but it is important that you find the strength and courage to do this because your son's life may depend on it.
DEAR ABBY: I recently graduated from college, and like a lot of fresh graduates, I had difficulty finding employment for several months. However, I was just offered a position far better than anything I could have asked for. This position is much closer to my dream job than a simple entry-level one, and I am over-the-moon happy. The problem is my partner, "Gavin."
Gavin graduated the semester before I did. He was in a different degree program, and he's still without a job. He applies for dozens of jobs a day, gets at least one interview a week, and then, after they ask about his less-than-stellar GPA, he never hears from them again. He has become increasingly frustrated about his inability to find employment in his field, and recently has been projecting his frustration on our relationship.
I want to be able to celebrate my accomplishment with my partner. I need Gavin's support and excitement for me over this new position, but I'm torn because every time I tell him a new detail about it, I can see in his face how upset he is. What can I do so I am not compromising my happiness trying not to upset him? -- WORKING WOMAN IN ORLANDO, FLA.
DEAR WORKING WOMAN: The first thing I'd recommend is, out of respect for your partner's sensitive feelings, to refrain from crowing about your jubilation. It may take Gavin a while to find the job he's looking for in his field, or he may have to consider taking something outside of his field until he can network enough to find his dream job.
No two people's career paths are the same. Witness the Hollywood marriages in which one spouse becomes successful more quickly than the other. However, if you and Gavin are sensitive to each other's feelings -- and mature -- you can make it through this challenging period.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 17. My mom and I often disagree on things. Don't get me wrong -- I don't care what she does in her free time, but lately I have learned she's talking to people about bisexuality. I don't know how to handle this or how to talk to her about it.
I feel betrayed. When I told her I was gay, she rejected my sexuality, and now she's possibly wanting relationships with other females? Even now, when we watch the news and something about the LGBT community comes on, she still mutters about marriage being between one man and one woman.
I don't want things to escalate into a big blowup over this because our relationship is just being repaired. Please help me. Am I wrong to be concerned, or do I have the right to be? -- TEEN IN DAYTON, OHIO
DEAR TEEN: I don't think it would escalate into an argument if you were to tell your mother you are confused by the mixed messages you're getting from her. It should be the opening of an interesting discussion, as long as you don't let it deteriorate into a fight. It seems odd to me, too, that she would reject your sexual orientation if she's leaning in both directions herself.
As to her feelings about marriage equality, you might be interested to know that not everyone thinks the idea of marriage (LGBT or otherwise) is appealing. If your mother is interested in open relationships, she may be part of that group.
DEAR ABBY: I went on a road trip with a friend who is normally kind and generous. She insisted on driving the entire way. She often exceeded the speed limit and kept less than 20 feet between us and the 18-wheel truck ahead.
She read texts, answered her cellphone and made phone calls while she was driving. She's very demonstrative when she talks, so while she drove, holding her cell with her left hand, she'd take her other hand off the wheel to gesture. More than once she nearly hit a guardrail.
I was so frightened I broke into sobs. She responded by laughing at me! Can you give me a tactful way to tell her how dangerous her driving really is? -- TERRIFIED IN MEMPHIS
DEAR TERRIFIED: No, because it's obvious that your friend is in deep denial not only about how dangerous her driving is, but also about how it affects her passengers and other drivers around her. But I can suggest that from now on, YOU provide the transportation if you're going anyplace together. You were lucky this time. The next time it could cost you your life.
DEAR ABBY: One day, I found two bottles of wine under my husband's bed. I told him I had found them and he didn't have to hide wine from me. Yesterday, I found two bottles of beer in his underwear drawer.
This is unusual behavior for a 65-year-old man. He is retired. I am still working. What should I do? -- PERPLEXED IN THE SOUTH
DEAR PERPLEXED: It's important that you find out what's causing your husband to act this way. Notify your doctor there has been a sudden change in his behavior and schedule physical and neurological exams for him. When seniors begin hiding items for no reason, it could indicate the onset of dementia.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend cheated on me the whole time I was pregnant last year. He lived in Florida, and I lived in Missouri. He didn't make it back for our son's birth like he promised.
Now that he's back, he stays out all night. He won't get a job to help support our family. He lies in bed all day, gets so drunk he can't drive and doesn't help out around the house, either. It's obvious that I should let him go. I'm 11 years older than he is, and he obviously isn't ready to grow up, even though he's 30.
I love him, but I'm tired of being treated this way. How can I get over this? -- CAN'T LET GO IN KANSAS CITY
DEAR CAN'T LET GO: You say you are tired of being treated that way? Congratulations on your burst of clarity. It has finally dawned on you that you have been enabling a lazy, ungrateful, irresponsible freeloader who has no respect for you or his child.
This isn't "love." You should have realized you would be raising two children when he didn't care enough to show up for the birth of the baby. Do what you know you must: Kick him out and move on.
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