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Dear Abby

Dear Abby

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DEAR ABBY: My wife and I raised two children -- a son who is a successful doctor and a daughter who is a multipost-grad botanist. We are 72 now, in moderately failing health and very successful ourselves.

Our children were raised properly. We gave them all they would ever need to succeed and be happy. However, neither one is particularly interested in a loving relationship with us. Holidays together are strained.

Frankly, I'm quite sick of both of them. They are inconsiderate, insensitive and standoffish. We make no demands on either of them and never impose ourselves in any way. They never invite us to anything. We want to move away and disappear. What do you think? -- ENOUGH ALREADY, IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR ENOUGH: People can disappear without physically moving away, as your children have already demonstrated. Have you tried asking them why they are so distant? Unless you do, nothing will change. Because holidays are strained, celebrate with those who appreciate you and whose company you enjoy.

DEAR ABBY: I invited a couple out for the husband's 60th birthday. We sat at the "chef's table" (in the front of the kitchen) and had amazing food and service. We all agreed it was a perfect evening.

I paid the bill and left a 25 percent tip on a $400 bill (for three people). The couple then proceeded to hand cash to the staff in spite of the fact that I had told them I had already tipped 25 percent, and they acknowledged that they knew it.

It was never my intention that they pay anything, and I was embarrassed. I felt like creeping out of the restaurant and never going back. Am I wrong to feel this way? Why wasn't my gift enough? -- EMBARRASSED IN FLORIDA

DEAR EMBARRASSED: Your gift WAS enough, and obviously the birthday celebration was a success. Your guests were so impressed that they shared their pleasure with the staff. What they did was no reflection on you, and you should not allow it to discourage you from going back. In fact, I'm sure the establishment will welcome you with open arms.

DEAR ABBY: My sixth-grade grandson is in a 2 1/2-hour social studies class. He told me that during that time the teacher texts at least six times. I think this deprives the students of valuable instructional time. My daughter hasn't spoken to the principal about it -- yet. I wonder when this concern will be expressed by other parents and discussed in your column. -- TIME TO LEARN IN TEXAS

DEAR TIME TO LEARN: Has your daughter discussed this with the parents of the other students? If she hasn't, she should, because they may not be aware of what the teacher is doing. If they find it as concerning as you and your daughter do, they should approach the principal as a group.

DEAR ABBY: A few years back, my 60-something-year-old single sister relocated from a different state to a mile from my home. Since then, MY husband has become HER husband. If something breaks, leaks or needs repair, she calls us. I "get" to handle the easy stuff, and hubby does the heavy-duty stuff.

I gave her our riding lawn mower and bought a newer model for us. There was nothing wrong with the mower we gave her, but she called us, crying, that it wouldn't start. Hubby spent several hours of his one day off trying to get it running, to no avail.

He told her she needed to call a repair person. Instead, she bought a spark plug and a fuel filter and started viewing online do-it-yourself videos so she could handle it. She said she "hopes" she can fix it so "he won't have to come and try to fix it again." I'm ready to explode! I feel like we're being taken advantage of. Help! -- SICK OF SIS IN THE SOUTH

DEAR SICK: Because you feel you and your husband are being taken advantage of, the next time your sister asks for your husband's handyman services, explain that his time off is limited and "suggest" AGAIN that she call a professional. If you wish to be more helpful, because she's relatively new to the area, ask some of your friends if they know someone who is dependable and competent.

DEAR ABBY: I am a morning person, and my newly retired husband is the opposite. At night in our bedroom, he reads on his iPad for several hours while I try to sleep. I am in bed by 11 while my husband usually stays up till 1 or 2 a.m. If I wake up, he's on our couch in the bedroom with a glow of light from the iPad. But it bothers me that he is in the same room staying up to read.

We have been married 45 years and usually went to bed at the same time because of work, but now that he's retired, he says he likes reading, watching movies or watching videos on YouTube. I think he should read in another room (better for his eyes) and not the room I am sleeping in. He doesn't want to sit in our living room.

Bottom line: It bothers me that one person is doing an activity while the other sleeps or tries to sleep. What would be your advice? -- DISORDERED SLEEP IN COLORADO

DEAR DISORDERED SLEEP: Because you need a solid night's sleep in order to function properly the next day, your husband should move to a different room if he wants to read so he won't disturb you. It's called demonstrating consideration for one's spouse.

DEAR ABBY: I am 25 and have been with my boyfriend on and off for five years. I love him very much. I often overthink things, and a constant frustration of mine is that he makes no romantic gestures at all. He drowns me in compliments and shows his love in other ways.

I always have to take the initiative and suggest he do romantic things like send me cards or flowers, take me to dinner, etc., but he only does them when I ask. It doesn't feel like enough for me. I worry that when we get married, over time I will grow bored or no longer be attracted to him because he is so unromantic. Am I just overthinking? What should I do? -- ROMANTIC ONE IN AUSTIN

DEAR ROMANTIC: From what you have written it seems that you may be more in love with the idea of romantic gestures than you are with the man you have. Many women would be thrilled to have someone who drowns them with compliments and shows his love in other ways. If you are truly worried that you will be bored if you marry him or -- worse -- turned off, then please, turn him loose so he can find someone who appreciates him for who he is, and you can meet someone who will make your dreams come true.

DEAR ABBY: My friend who was suddenly widowed two years ago continues to insert her late husband into every conversation with friends and strangers alike. She's still depressed, grieving and searching for significance, and she shares it all in person and online.

Early on, she had counseling but no longer feels it necessary. She claims it helps her to talk about him constantly. Most of us close to her avoid the elephant in the room. I find myself apologizing for her in group gatherings I take her to. People try to offer sympathy, but are surprised when they realize he's been gone two years.

I endure with love, but wonder if this is the best path. Personally, I want to let him rest in peace. But that's hard when he's always "in the room." Advice? -- WANTING TO MOVE FORWARD

DEAR WANTING: Everyone grieves in their own way and on their own timetable. However, your friend may need more support and counseling than you and others she meets socially can offer. She has my sympathy, but that deeply grieving woman needs to hear what you have written to me. Tell her, as kindly as possible, that she needs to vent to a professional so she can get more help through this difficult period.

DEAR ABBY: A male family friend who is gay works at a local business my wife and I patronize regularly. We always stop and chat when he's there, but he does something that irritates me. He addresses my wife as "Sweetie." My wife thinks I'm being silly because he's gay; I say one's sexual orientation doesn't negate manners and how one man should address another man's wife. I'm not annoyed to the point that I'd confront the guy, but I promised my wife I'd ask you your opinion. -- BOTHERED IN NEW YORK

DEAR BOTHERED: There is nothing rude about a family friend -- gay or straight -- calling someone's wife "Sweetie." My opinion is you should lighten up.

DEAR ABBY: I have severe asthma and allergies, and I'm particularly sensitive to bug sprays. If I'm exposed to them, my lips and tongue tingle for hours.

Every time my husband of 30 years sees a bug or even a small ant in our house, he reaches for the bug spray and saturates the house with it. Given the length of our marriage, he is well aware of how it affects me. I have asked him many times to please not use spray in the house, particularly when I am home, to no avail.

He did it again yesterday and got angry with me when I asked why. He reads your column, so I know he will see your response to my inquiry. What is your advice? -- FED UP IN FLORIDA

DEAR FED UP: Stop asking your husband not to use bug spray while you are in the house. Be proactive and throw it out! You clearly have a severe allergy to something in it, and for him to persist in spraying while you are on the premises strikes me as not only selfish but also as a form of assault that's potentially very serious. Call an exterminator to have it professionally done. There are other, less toxic ways to get rid of pests, and you should go online and explore them.

DEAR ABBY: I asked a woman I know professionally if she'd be interested in having lunch. She said she would, and we had a lovely lunch -- until the bill came. When I suggested we split it, she suggested I make it a business expense. I told her I couldn't do that because it wasn't a business lunch.

I know if you invite someone to lunch, you pay, but I didn't think that's what I did. I have done this before -- and since -- and everyone pays for themselves. Do I owe this woman an apology? -- EVERYONE PAYS IN TEXAS

DEAR EVERYONE: Not unless she became defensive. However, because you did the inviting, you should have paid the bill. If you want to lunch with her again, you should specify, "Let's split it."

DEAR ABBY: I work at a school. There's this woman here I would like to know. She's 21; I'm 24. I do maintenance and janitorial work. She's a professional. I wrote her a note wishing her and her family well for the holidays. She texted me once, thanking me for the note and wishing me happy holidays, too.

I want more communication. I'm not sure if she's nervous and doesn't know what to say. She seems like an incredible person, and I'd hate to pass up the opportunity to know her better. What's your take on this? -- HER FUTURE FRIEND? IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR FRIEND: Because you both work at the same school there could be rules against fraternization or even sexual harassment that could put your job in jeopardy if you do what you have in mind, however innocent it may be. That's why I don't recommend it. Appreciate the opportunity to work with pleasant, wonderful, "incredible" people, but leave it at that.

DEAR ABBY: I am an estate planner who would like to say that folks who don't believe in writing thank-you letters have no idea how much they may have lost by not sending those little notes of gratitude. I am talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars that have not gone to people who failed to pen a note and buy a stamp.

Many of my clients who are grandparents tell me they are leaving nothing to the "children" who never thanked them. They say the ingrates deserve what they'll be getting, which is nothing. -- PATRICIA IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR PATRICIA: I'm printing your letter verbatim. A word to the wise, folks ... Happy holidays!

DEAR ABBY: I'm concerned about a friend of mine. When she was a child, her parents tried to raise her to be neat, but her bedroom, closets and bathroom were always a mess. Now that she has a home of her own and is married with kids, she's still the same. Clothing and towels are piled so deep on the floor you can't see it.

She has a housekeeper, and before the woman comes over to clean, my friend picks the stuff up. I don't know how they can tell what's clean or dirty when it has been walked on all week. The rest of the house is OK, but as you walk in the door, shoes are thrown here and there, like, "I'm home now. I'm free. Let it go. No rules." Her teenage daughter is now modeling the same behavior.

Is this some kind of disorder? To me, it would be just as easy to dump things into a hamper, on a shelf or in a drawer. Her husband is neat, and so is her son. I love her and it's none of my business, but is my way the wrong way? Am I the one with a disorder? -- ORDERLY IN ARKANSAS

DEAR ORDERLY: Your friend may have refused to be neat as a form of rebellion against her parents who, according to you, did not enforce the rules they set for her. It's not surprising the daughter is imitating her mother, which may come back to haunt her in a few years.

But none of you have a disorder. I do have a suggestion for you, however. Quit obsessing about your friend's sloppy household and parenting because there is nothing you can do about it.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter is 40 years old and a lousy conversationalist. She will answer questions, but her conversation always turns to herself and her narrow, specific interests. She never asks me (or others) about ourselves, and when she starts talking about herself, there's no stopping her. She seems to need to dominate every conversation.

She has always been this way, and I think it's partly because she's anxious. She was bullied as a child, and I think that contributes as well. When she was little, her dad and I talked about it, but he's very hands-off and didn't want to address it. Because of that, her style never changed, and I now think we made a mistake. Can you suggest a way I could help her, even now, to become better at conversation? -- SMOOTH TALKER IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR TALKER: You are well-meaning, but there is little you can do to turn your daughter into a better conversationalist. From your description, she may be deeply insecure. However, until she realizes that her coping mechanism is driving others away, your suggestions will be met with denial and ignored. The most helpful thing you could say, IF SHE ASKS for advice, would be that she needs unbiased guidance, which she can find by scheduling some time with a licensed mental health professional.

DEAR ABBY: Will you please ask your readers NOT to open doors for toddlers? Since I became a parent and my son has learned to walk, I have been amazed at how many people will open the door in a store or supermarket to let him outside. I guarantee you, my son is safer inside the store than alone and unsupervised outside. While he may stand at the door wanting to go outside, he does not know what is best for him, and chances are I'm still inside the store.

Abby, please remind your readers that although a child may be standing alone at the door, the parents are typically no more than 10 or 15 feet away. If they wanted him to go outside, they would open the door for him. Thanks! -- CONCERNED PARENT OF A TODDLER

DEAR PARENT: As requested, I'm printing your letter. However, when parents take small children shopping, they should be extra careful about keeping them close and in their line of sight. Another concern is, toddlers have been known to destroy displays of cans, bottles and boxes, and get underfoot, which creates a hazard for other shoppers.

It isn't always a "helpful" shopper who allows the little ones to exit. Sometimes the doors swing open automatically. It might be safer for all concerned if the little ones are kept securely fastened in the cart or a stroller.

DEAR ABBY: My husband of many years has an offensive eating habit. When finishing his meal, he takes the plate or bowl, puts it to his mouth as one would a drinking glass, and shovels the remains into his mouth. As he does it he makes little sucking movements with his lips like an animal lapping food from a bowl. I find it revolting, but how can I address it without offending him? -- ANNOYED IN ALBUQUERQUE

DEAR ANNOYED: Offending HIM? Try this: Say it in PLAIN ENGLISH! (Or just feed him sandwiches.)

DEAR ABBY: My husband invited his good friend (an artist) to stay with us for two nights because he is coming to our city to give a speech. He accepted.

We tried to contact him two weeks ago, one week ago, three days ago, yesterday and this morning to find out what time he'll arrive so we can plan our schedule and prepare the food. He still hasn't gotten back to us. I had planned to go to church and a concert afterward. My husband doesn't want me to leave.

I am very frustrated about the man's lack of consideration. My husband considers him a good friend, but after the way we are being treated, I'm not convinced. -- STILL WAITING IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR STILL WAITING: I don't blame you for being miffed. Good friends don't treat each other so rudely. They answer their messages and show up when they're expected. Unless the man was in the hospital, solitary confinement or dead, there's no excuse for his poor manners. Because your husband considers him a good friend, he should have stayed home to welcome "the artist" and let you off the hook.

DEAR ABBY: My son and daughter-in-law are "horrified" that we refer to our 3-year-old grandson's penis using the correct terminology. Should we relent and refer to that part of his body as something else? -- UNSURE IN THE SOUTH

DEAR UNSURE: Not in my opinion. Children should be taught the correct terms for their body parts as soon as they are aware enough to identify -- and pronounce -- them. To do this will prevent confusion and possibly embarrassment later.

DEAR ABBY: My husband of 10 years is in the process of retiring from the military and is now re-evaluating "procedures" and "policies" of everything -- including our marriage. I'm trying to respect his needs in an effort to help him make sense of things. However, there are times when I feel some of his new rules are hurtful or harmful and need to be negotiated or evaluated. (By the way, in general, I do not encourage or support the idea of "rules" in marriage aside from fidelity; communication should be the rule in my opinion, but I digress.)

His latest rule is that I need to be covered when getting ready in the morning ("It's not proper to be so comfortable naked, and if you respect me, you would do as I ask"). He said he thinks I look amazing now, but then he added: "Think about when you are your grandmother's age; you won't be pleasant to look at."

As his partner, I feel we should make each other feel comfortable in the buff, and it's harmful to ask our partner to cover up for any reason in the sanctity of our home. We have no children and live alone, and I have always gotten ready in the mornings this way, behind closed doors, where no one but my husband can see me. Abby, can you guide us to resolution on this matter? -- NOTHING TO HIDE IN GEORGIA

DEAR NOTHING: As a military man, your husband is used to rules and structure, which are necessary in that environment. This, however, is civilian life. Before allowing him to make any more rules or institute a change in dress code (undress code), allow me to "guide" you directly to the office of a licensed marriage counselor because, unless there is something you have omitted from your letter, your husband is a mile off base.

DEAR ABBY: Recently my middle sister started dating my younger sister's ex-boyfriend. My younger sister dated this guy in college (10 years ago) and really cared for him. It ended when she found out he had cheated on her. Younger sister is now married and has a small child.

Middle sister started dating this ex a few months ago and really likes him. He has been over to see my parents, and they are supportive of the relationship. The problem is, no one wants to tell my younger sister for fear of her being mad.

I talk to her almost daily. I'm afraid that once she finds out, which is bound to happen, she will be more upset with me (and my parents) for hiding it from her than the fact that they're dating. Should I tell her or is it not my place?

I don't want to feel like I am lying or hiding anything anymore, but I also feel like my middle sister should admit it, which she said she isn't ready to do because she doesn't want to say anything unless this turns into something serious. What should I do? -- CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE

DEAR CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE: From where I sit, you have sized the situation up accurately. Your younger sister will be mortified when she realizes that everyone knew her sister has been dating the ex for months and it was kept from her. Talk to your middle sister. Insist that the sneaking around stop, because it could cause a permanent breach in the family.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 17-year-old girl and recently came out to my parents, who are stuck in the "it's just a phase" mindset. I used to be able to talk with my mom about everything, but now when I talk about my sexuality, she gets quiet and dismissive. It's frustrating. I understand I'm still young and learning things about myself, but I feel like I don't have their support as much as I used to. Help! -- NEEDS SUPPORT IN NEW MEXICO

DEAR NEEDS SUPPORT: What your mother may not realize is that children usually know they are gay long before they find the courage to talk about it. Young people who receive negative messages about what it means to be gay are -- not surprisingly -- less likely to be open about their sexuality because they don't want to disappoint or be negatively judged.

You might be able to talk more effectively with your parents if you contact PFLAG and get some information. This is an organization whose mission is to help LGBTQ people and their families build bridges of understanding. The website is

DEAR ABBY: I have a problem saying no. I live 45 minutes from work, and because I'm a friendly person, people constantly ask me to give them rides. Today, two co-workers who live nowhere near me asked for rides home. (I already gave one a lift to work.) Another asked me to take him to the grocery store. I like being helpful, but this happens all the time and it's too much. Tonight I'll be more than an hour late getting home.

I was raised with a strong sense of moral obligation and good manners, but I'm tired and just want to go home. I feel guilty for even thinking this. What do I do? -- YES-GIRL IN THE EAST

DEAR YES-GIRL: You should not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. Saying no does not make you a bad person.

There are ways to get the message across without seeming heartless. One would be to tell the truth -- that you are too tired, you have something else planned or you don't want to be an hour late getting home. While it may seem uncomfortable in the beginning, with practice you will find it empowering.

DEAR ABBY: My middle-aged younger sister is 12 months into a midlife crisis. She has divorced her husband and abdicated her role as a mother, preferring instead to be a buddy to her teenage sons. She has started sleeping around, smoking pot and drinking -- a lot. Needless to say, our family is very concerned.

This behavior is nothing like her. When she does take our calls, she lies about what she's doing. We have caught her doing it, and so far we have just held our tongues. I'm unsure whether confronting her about her behavior would help or hurt her.

I love my sister and always will, but I have lost a lot of respect for her, and our relationship has been damaged. Should I tell her I know she is acting reckless and being dishonest? -- HELPING OR HURTING IN THE SOUTH

DEAR HELPING OR HURTING: Yes! By remaining silent you are enabling her to continue.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Ken," decided to have his mother move in with us without first asking me how I felt about it. I don't want to be insensitive. I know she has nowhere else to go. The problem is, she's the most domineering person I have ever known. If she enters a room and doesn't like a picture, she'll move it or get rid of it without asking.

When I tried to warn my husband that this wouldn't be easy, his response was, "You just don't like my mother." I do like her, but I don't know that I can live with her. I feel like my marriage is hanging by a thread. Any advice? -- SERIOUSLY STRESSED-OUT

DEAR SERIOUSLY STRESSED: Your mother-in-law is acting like YOUR house is HER house. Set her straight. And if your husband tells you, "You just don't like my mother," tell him that it isn't that you don't like her; it's that you don't like the way she's acting and you will no longer tolerate it.

DEAR ABBY: When is it appropriate to correct someone's spelling and/or punctuation errors? Our pastor writes a message in our church's monthly newsletter and invariably makes several grammar or spelling mistakes. The church secretary also makes mistakes in our weekly bulletin and never catches the pastor's errors. In addition, the day care personnel at our church make mistakes in the written lessons for the children.

I have offered to proofread for our pastor and secretary, but they never take me up on my offer. I grew up in a time when accuracy mattered, but nowadays many folks think that if one can make oneself understood, that is good enough. I'm interested in what you would advise. -- FUSSY WRITER IN MARYLAND

DEAR WRITER: You were kind to volunteer to edit the bulletins and newsletters, but you can't force the pastor and church secretary to accept your generous offer. However, because young children model the behavior of the adults around them, my advice to the parents would be to remove theirs from any program in which the day care personnel are so poorly educated they can't use proper English.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my husband for 22 years. We've been together for 26. We've had our ups and downs, and separated for three months back in 2008, but we went to marriage counseling and got back together.

I have recently realized that my husband is an accomplished liar and has been from day one. To top it off, he lies about stupid things, which makes me wonder what important things he's lying about. When I express my feelings about this, he swears he will never lie again, blah blah blah -- and damn if I don't catch him again! Is this marriage doomed because he can't stop lying? And how do I trust anything he ever says to me? -- UNTRUSTING IN MARYLAND

DEAR UNTRUSTING: Successful marriages are based on trust and communication. Yours is in serious trouble.

Most people who lie do so because they are trying to make themselves look better or are not proud of whatever it is they are attempting to cover up. However, those who lie about "stupid" things may be compulsive liars who can't control the impulse. If your spouse falls into this category, a licensed mental health professional may be able to help him overcome his problem, but there are no guarantees.

DEAR ABBY: My elderly mother, my daughter, her boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Las Vegas. Because of the costs involved, we are considering sharing a room with two queen beds. The plan would be for me and my mother to share one bed, and my daughter and her boyfriend to share the other.

My wife thinks this is weird -- that my mother and I should share a bed. I explained that it will be a queen bed, and I don't understand why she thinks it is strange. This will save us around $1,000 that a second room would cost. What do you think? -- RALPH IN OHIO

DEAR RALPH: Is saving the money more important to you than privacy, comfort and propriety? Your wife may have been thinking along those lines when she suggested the "boys" sleep with the boys and the "girls" sleep together. Before rendering an opinion, I'd have to know what your daughter, her boyfriend and your mother think about this arrangement, because unless you all agree, it might make more sense to request a cot or bring an air mattress with you.

P.S. If one of you gets lucky in Vegas, maybe you can afford a second room.

DEAR ABBY: After years of nagging about thank-you notes, this is how I'm encouraging my younger family members to acknowledge gifts: We have the child create a big thank-you note or draw a picture, hold it with a big smile along with the gift and take a photo, which we send electronically.

We made a rule that they can't play with the gift until the thank-you is done, and even little folks understand it. It's fun and immediate. They usually get a quick note of appreciation back, and the giver gets a keepsake of the occasion. -- NEW AGE GRANDMA

DEAR GRANDMA: That's a wonderful idea, not only because it utilizes technology, but also because it requires SOME effort on the part of the little ones. Good for you.

DEAR ABBY: My 25-year-old niece still lives at home. She works full time and attends college online. She's a hard worker who doesn't do drugs or engage in risky behavior.

I pay her a bonus for every A she earns, and I also pay for her health insurance. While I gladly pay the college bonuses, I have misgivings about continuing to pay for her health insurance, even though I can afford it. She doesn't make much money at her job, but she goes out to restaurants and bars often, attends concerts and takes trips out of state three or four times a year.

When I was her age, I also went to college, worked a low-paying job and lived with my mother. Although I went out with friends often, I never wasted money on those other things -- especially vacations. Should I continue paying her health insurance for her? I don't know if I'm being judgmental or enabling irresponsible behavior. -- PROTECTIVE IN HOUSTON

DEAR PROTECTIVE: You are obviously a generous person, but yes, you are being judgmental. Your niece is working, studying and living a clean and healthy life. You had a social life when you were your niece's age; you should not begrudge her having hers.

Going to restaurants, bars and concerts is normal for a young woman her age. However, if you prefer not to subsidize the vacations because you feel they are excessive, discuss your feelings with her before deciding what to do.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have lived like nomads for the last few years. We have bought, sold and moved many times for all sorts of silly reasons. Our 5-year-old daughter finally started school, yet we don't feel at home here. We now realize buying and selling may not be for us, so we are renting, but we still aren't happy.

We moved here to be close to my oldest and dearest friend, whose kids are now grown, and to my sister, who hardly talks to us or sees us. My husband's sister and her husband's family love us and treat us well. They have suggested we should move by them. They have kids our daughter's age. The only issue is possibly not finding a good home or school. Private school could be an option.

Would another move be bad? Should we make a final move before our daughter gets vested in school and friends? It would put us within walking distance to several families we spend a lot of time with and who love us very much. We are afraid of judgment from everyone. Please help us sort it out. -- HOPEFUL NOMADS IN ILLINOIS

DEAR NOMADS: Forget about the judgments. You will survive them. The older your daughter becomes, the more difficult moving away from the people she knows will be for her. If you are going to move to an environment more compatible for you, your husband and your daughter, the time to do it is now, so her education and social relationships will not be as disrupted as they would be when she is older.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a widowed senior who has been dating a very kind man, "Ben," for three years. He's retired; I am not. He does things for and with me, and we enjoy traveling together.

The problem is, Ben usually starts drinking about 3 p.m. at the neighborhood bar. I'm welcome to join him, but I prefer to work at my job or volunteer in the community. By the grace of God, Ben has made it home safely every night, but I'm afraid he will eventually hurt someone.

My son came home for a month because of a job change, and tonight he found Ben passed out in the front yard. I told my son I was sorry, and he said not to be, but he does not want his family -- my grandchildren -- around when Ben is like this.

I am so embarrassed. I would miss this relationship, but I'm wondering if you think I should end it. -- MISSING THE GOOD IN HIM

DEAR MISSING THE GOOD: It must have been clear to you for some time that Ben has a serious drinking problem that needs to be addressed. Whether you should end the relationship depends upon whether he is willing to admit that he has a problem and is willing to do something about it.

Because Ben's drinking is now affecting you and, by extension, your family, it's time to confront him and give him a choice -- get help or find another lady friend. There are Alcoholics Anonymous groups worldwide and in almost every community. Steer Ben in that direction, and while you're at it, locate the nearest Al-Anon group for yourself. You will find it both sympathetic and helpful. These groups are as close as your phone directory or your computer. Visit

DEAR ABBY: I recently utilized a national ancestry company to determine my heritage. I also provided kits to my adult children thinking it would be a fun exercise we all could share. Unfortunately, my good deed came with unexpected consequences.

According to the results, my youngest son isn't related to me. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, my ex-wife had an affair 25 years ago.

What do I do now? Should I confront my ex to verify the affair and learn the identity of my son's father? How do we tell my son? Should we? How do we handle our families? Keep it a secret? I would appreciate your guidance. -- UNKNOWN FAMILY TREE

DEAR UNKNOWN: Before making accusations or announcements, it is important that you determine the accuracy of the test to make absolutely sure the results are conclusive. If a second test verifies the first, your son should be informed because he has a right to know his familial medical history -- and HE should talk to his mother about who his biological father is.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069


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