DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend of three months, Josh, and I are having a disagreement. I was married to my ex-husband for seven years and had two beautiful sons with him. I am no longer in love with my ex and we do not spend any time alone together. However, after our divorce six years ago, we agreed it would be best to remain on good terms for the sake of our boys. We spend holidays, birthdays and special events jointly with our sons.
Josh has a very difficult time with this. He thinks that once youre divorced, its over. You dont sit together at functions. Josh doesnt even want him to come into the house to pick up the boys.
I care deeply for Josh and dont want to lose him over this, but Im at my wits end. I want my children to know that even though their parents are no longer married, we can be civil and get along. Can you help me with this?
STUCK IN NEW YORK
DEAR STUCK: I commend you and your ex-husband for your maturity and determination that your children will see you as a united front, even though youre no longer married. It saddens me that the man with whom you are now involved is insecure and unable to appreciate the wisdom of your decision.
If your boyfriend is willing, Id recommend some couples counseling to help him calm his jealousy. Please discuss it with him. However, if he refuses, then he has already told you what you need to know about the future of your relationship and the degree to which he values it.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 30-year-old mother of two. I have been having serious issues with my daughter, who is 9. She has come to me asking questions like, What is rape? and Why does it happen all the time? She wants to know what she can do to prevent being raped.
I was raped as a child, and twice more in my teens. I have a big problem even talking to my children about sex. How can I get over this very uncomfortable feeling and be able to answer my childrens questions honestly and without having to say not now, or trying to change the subject?
DEAR NEEDS HELP: Youre asking intelligent questions. The answer is to get psychological counseling to help you deal with the unresolved issues related to the rapes you suffered as a young girl. Your physician should be able to refer you to a licensed therapist. After that, there are books at the library that can help you to answer your daughters questions. Please dont wait any longer. Do it now.
DEAR ABBY: My adult children complain that when they send me photos of their kids who are missing teeth, I photo-edit them and replace the teeth. I am guilty as charged, but I think it looks better so why not do it?
They claim that part of the charm of the childrens photos is the missing teeth, the cowlicks, the twisted tie, etc. In this electronic age, who is right?
DEDE IN TACOMA, WASH.
DEAR DEDE: They are. The pictures they are sending you are not those of child models. Your grandchildren are normal children, and normal children are works in progress. My question to you is, why cant you accept them for exactly who they are in their current stage of development?
DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a wonderful woman for the past 16 months. She comes from a good family, is well-educated, is financially and emotionally stable, and has two great kids who hero-worship me.
Last night she told me she has fallen in love with me and herein lies the problem. Although we have much in common and have a blast together, Im only so-so attracted to her physically, and shes starting to notice.
I dont want to lose her friendship, but I also dont want to hurt her or her kids, and Im afraid I already have. What should I do?
WANTS TO DO
THE RIGHT THING
DEAR WANTS TO DO THE RIGHT THING: The right thing is to tell her how fond you are of her and her children and its something that will never go away, but that you think of her more as a sister than a lover. It wont be easy to say or to hear. But honesty is the best policy in a situation like yours.
DEAR ABBY: I have a friend, Anne, who is in her 40s. She has never married and has dutifully taken care of her mother, whom she loves very much.
Abby, Annes mother is hypercritical, overbearing and unloving. Shell take her hairdressers advice about her personal affairs rather than listen to the advice of her daughter, who only wants whats best for her mother.
Anne desperately wants her mothers love and approval, but I dont think her mother, who is now elderly, will ever change. Poor Anne will never be happy because she cant let go of wanting her mothers love and approval which is all she ever wanted but never received. She cant afford counseling and probably wouldnt go if she could. Is there anything I can do to help her?
DEAR FRIEND: Unless your friend wakes up and recognizes that her relationship with her mother is repetitive and unfulfilling, there is nothing anyone can do. However, one day when she seems receptive, you might point out to her that the way her mother controls her is by withholding the very things that she needs and wants the most.
DEAR ABBY: I am engaged to a wonderful man Ill call Howard. His mother, Tillie, is driving me crazy. Shes trying to plan our wedding with no regard to my feelings or Howards. She is trying to dictate the style of the wedding cake, the food that will be served, the colors well use and the size of the wedding. (We want something small and intimate; she wants a large one.)
Tillie has even bought a solid off-white dress to wear, which I think is tacky. Telling her how we feel does no good. Please help!
DEAR EMBATTLED: Assuming that you are paying for this wedding, you should have the right to veto any suggestions from Howards mother. Tillie seems to have run her sons life so far, and she will run yours, too, unless you and Howard form a united front to prevent it.
I could suggest an elopement, but that wouldnt solve your ultimate problem. Howards mother will take over your lives if you give her an inch, so unless youre 100 percent positive that once youre married Howard will stand with you, save yourself a lot of heartache and rethink your decision to marry him.
Good advice for everyone teens to seniors is in The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.) Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.