DEAR ABBY: My husband and I divorced when our only son was 3. We had joint custody. Our marriage ended because of his binge drinking, secrecy, verbal abuse and one incident of domestic violence. At 14, my son chose to live with his father.
His dad and stepmother have now alienated him from me. He’s 30 now and has had problems abusing alcohol and marijuana. When I see him, there is always underlying hostility. I love and fear for him, as any mother would.
I attend Al-Anon meetings and have made myself geographically available to him over the last eight years. He visits briefly, once or twice every six months. I have offered to go to counseling with him. He has a counselor but never invites me to come. I would pay for one, but my son says he’s too busy to do more. Should I just give up? I’m afraid of letting go, but emotionally drained from the struggle. — MOM WITH A BREAKING HEART
DEAR MOM: You have done everything you can to repair the tie that was broken so long ago. You can’t fix what’s wrong with your son. Whatever problems there were in the past, you have tried to deal with them the best you could. There is a saying in AA, “Let go and let God.” For the sake of your own emotional well-being, it is time to do that.
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DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year. We are now making arrangements to move in together. I consider myself lucky because every day my partner tells me I’m beautiful, that I am kind and many wonderful things. I know he adores me. However, he has not told me he loves me. Nor have I said it to him. Am I old-fashioned in assuming my male partner should tell me he loves me first? I’m getting impatient. — GREAT GIRLFRIEND IN IDAHO
DEAR GIRLFRIEND: I have a suggestion. Before you move in with this man, why don’t you simply ASK him why he hasn’t said the words you long to hear? From what you have written, he demonstrates it often. His answer may be enlightening and could affect whether you proceed with your plans.
DEAR ABBY: We live next door to a nice Jewish family, with three precious kids who seem to really like us old retirees. I had planned to make a Passover cake for them and had input on how to prepare kosher. However, I am having second thoughts. Should I send a card telling them I’d like to prepare something? Or should I go ahead and prepare it anyway? Or should I just send a Passover greeting instead? — WONDERING IN TEXAS
DEAR WONDERING: A card might be the wiser way to go. Before you go to the expense of buying the ingredients, talk with the wife. Tell her what you are planning and find out how “strictly kosher” the family is. While some families would welcome your generosity, others might prefer not to consume something that wasn’t prepared from kosher products AND PREPARED IN A KOSHER KITCHEN.
DEAR ABBY: How do I deal with a difficult co-worker? I’m kind, polite and courteous to this person, and they are short, rude and condescending in response. They are the type of person who wouldn’t care if I approached them and told them my feelings are hurt, and probably would make fun of me behind my back. How do I deal with this person? It makes me want to leave my job. — PEEVED IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR PEEVED: Does this co-worker treat everyone the way they treat you? If the answer is yes, then as a group document these incidents and inform your supervisor or employer the person is creating a hostile work environment. If you are the only employee getting the brunt of your co-worker’s hostility, you will have to speak to your employer yourself. And if nothing can be done to remedy the situation, you may have to seek employment elsewhere.
DEAR ABBY: I am a mother of three adult kids. We are all comfortable financially. My eldest and youngest are successful. They work hard, and enjoy their homes and their lifestyle of entertaining and eating out.
My middle child lives far away and is happy to say he is not a capitalist. He works for nonprofits and barely makes ends meet. He went to college, but dropped out in his last semester. He has no health insurance. He drives a car, but has no insurance or driver’s license. He clearly knows better, but insists that all these concerns of mine are “old world and overrated” and that I worry about “nothing.”
I’m sick about the mistakes I’ve made with him, but I’m not sure what they were. I try to focus him on his license and insurance, but nothing gets done. What’s the next best step? — HELICOPTER MOM IN MICHIGAN
DEAR HELICOPTER MOM: I am sorry you didn’t mention what exactly your son does for these nonprofit organizations. Because they are “nonprofit” does not mean there is no money to pay their employees. Not only do staffers at nonprofits earn good wages, there are also benefits. The next best step for YOU would be to step back, and allow your adult son to conduct his life the way he has chosen and to accept the consequences of his irresponsibility.
for many years. I suspect he gets scammed for money on the internet. I know for sure it has happened twice. I have talked to him about it more than once. He routinely forwards me emails to check if they are legitimate. However, I think he falls for romance scams and is too embarrassed to tell me about it. He isn’t going to be unable to pay his bills or go into debt, but I’m still concerned. Should I do more, even though it may be very uncomfortable for us both? — CONCERNED SON IN NOVA SCOTIA
DEAR ABBY: My wife has started slurping her food at dinner. I think it started after we returned from a vacation three months ago. I’m convinced she didn’t do it before then because we have taken a couple of vacations recently where it would have been noticeable because of the quiet, intimate places in which we dined.
Because of the COVID quarantine, I realize that tensions can be heightened, and I have tried not to make too much of this. I am reluctant to speak up about it because during my first marriage, even the slightest noise when eating would upset my ex-wife, and I think it would be unfair for me to have the same pet peeve.
This may seem like I’m overly sensitive, but her slurping and heavy breathing every time she takes a bite, even with dry food, is making dinner time uncomfortable for me. I have pointed it out in a casual way, but it seems she is unaware of just how loudly she is eating. What can I do to reach a compromise on this? — UNCOMFORTABLE DINER
DEAR DINER: While your sensitivity to this might be related to the problems you had with your first wife, because this is a recent change in your current wife’s behavior, it should be checked out by her doctor. I am less concerned about her “slurping” than about the labored breathing you described when your wife is eating.
DEAR ABBY: I have a wonderful neighbor who loves to give me beautifully arranged bouquets of flowers. The problem is, although I appreciate her very much, I do not enjoy receiving flowers because I don’t like seeing them die. My husband knows this. Also, I don’t have enough room for all the vases. I’m not unappreciative, but I don’t know how to let her know I no longer want flowers as gifts. I would like to be as tactful as possible without hurting her feelings. Please help. — OVERWHELMED IN ARIZONA
DEAR OVERWHELMED: Invite your generous neighbor to lunch and give her a small gift. (Candy, perhaps.) During the lunch thank her for her kindness and praise her for her flower arranging talent, but add that WATCHING THEM DIE DEPRESSES YOU, and to please stop. Ask if she would like you to return her vases you have collected, and if she says yes, have them boxed and ready to give her after the lunch. If she refuses your offer, find out if a neighborhood florist can use them. If not, recycle or toss them.
DEAR ABBY: I have two younger sisters — “Mara” and “Talia.” We grew up very close, thick as thieves. However, as adults, my relationship with Mara has gone from strained to nonexistent, especially as I’ve grown closer to my youngest sister, Talia.
Mara gave birth to her first child five years ago, and since then, she has cut everyone out of her life, including our heartbroken parents. I was able to stay in contact with her, but she would accuse me of not wanting to see her because I couldn’t make time in my schedule to see her kids. (I am a full-time student and have a full-time job.) Bear in mind that Mara has made no effort to meet my schedule, either.
She finally cut all ties with me after Talia and I got matching tattoos centered around video games — a subject Mara has no interest in. She was upset that we didn’t invite her to get one too, but we didn’t think she would want a permanent inking of something she had shown distaste for in the past. We invited her to get sister tattoos when she said she was hurt. She said she didn’t have time because of her kids, and hasn’t spoken to me since.
I feel like nothing I do will make her happy. Am I better off not having her in my life? Or should I try to make amends? — SISTER STRESS IN UTAH
DEAR SISTER STRESS: You have done nothing for which to make amends. It appears you have one high-maintenance sister who looks for grievances and hangs on to them as though they are precious treasures. I suspect you are correct in thinking nothing you do will make her happy, at least at this point, and — since you asked — you may be better off without her making you miserable. I am sorry for your parents and for you and Talia, but sometimes it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie.
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