Grandma's favoritism causing harm

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DEAR ABBY: My mother has eight grandchildren. Four are mine; four are my sisters. One, however, is her obvious favorite. She spares no expense when it comes to my sisters oldest son, Johnny. She buys him extravagant gifts, praises him constantly, and hands him large sums of money in front of the other children often making a big deal out of presenting it to him.

Last Christmas, she insisted that all the children come and sit around Johnny as she presented him with a $100 bill. When were out together in public, she will say to perfect strangers, in front of all the children, I love all my grandchildren, but I have special feelings for Johnny. We have a special relationship that I dont have with the others. My children are hurt by her actions and comments.

When the children were younger, I could disguise her favoritism, but as my children have grown older, they are very aware of her feelings and actions. When my sister and I confronted Mother about it, she cried, said she wouldnt listen to such hateful lies, then stormed from the room. Is there a way to help my mother see what shes doing to our family, or should I just protect my children from her abuse by staying away from her?

PROTECTIVE MOM

DEAR MOM: You and your sister should have formed a united front and put a stop to this years ago. As it stands, your mother has already alienated seven out of her eight grandchildren, and understandably so. If youre asking for my permission to protect your children from your mothers obsession with their cousin, you have it. And your sister should follow your example.

DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of two children ages 7 and 4. In a recent child development class, there was a discussion about sex education for small children. My professor mentioned that if children arent asking questions about sex, we should initiate talks with our children. She also said that children should have the sex talk by 8 years old. Is this correct?

I cant imagine talking to my children about sex at such an early age. Whats the best age to have the sex talk, and is there a limit on how much we should talk about?

SYLVIA IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR SYLVIA: Much depends upon the level of maturity of the child, which can vary from individual to individual. Parents should certainly use correct terminology when talking about body parts. Its best to arm children with knowledge before their hormones kick in. I agree with your professor that by age 8 or 9, some discussion of puberty should be introduced. If you wait much longer, your children will hear the facts from their friends instead of from you, and too often, the information they receive from peers is incorrect.

DEAR ABBY: About a year ago, I found out that I am biologically unable to father a child. My wife and I looked into several options and chose to go with an anonymous donor.

How would you suggest I handle comments like, That baby looks just like you, or She has your eyes. Because our baby will be a girl, I was thinking of something like, I hope not shell never get a date looking like me. Any other suggestions?

FATHER-TO-BE

DEAR FATHER-TO-BE: When someone comments that the baby resembles you, stick with the tried-and-true. Smile and say, Thank you! Its all thats required from any proud papa.

DEAR ABBY: Russell and I have been living together for two years. (We met three years ago.) The problem is his best friend, Whitney. I didnt have a problem with her until last October. They have been e-mailing back and forth, and I have discovered some things in those e-mails Im not comfortable with.

Russell uses my pet names with Whitney and says he would be lost without her and that he loves her. Whitney constantly has one crisis after another and needs to come over, even if she knows its the only day Russell and I have off together. I have confronted him about this without confessing that I read his e-mails. He insists that he loves Whitney like the sister he never had. But when she talks about her new boyfriends, he seems upset. And when she leaves from her visits, he gets depressed.

Russell and Whitney dated back when they were teens, and she insists hes like a brother. I just find it odd that if she calls and wants to come over, hell drop any plans we have. I also find it odd that he tells her he loves her so often. I feel like Im being replaced.

I know they arent having sex, but their e-mails suggest that hes cheating on me emotionally. I love Russell and dont want to lose him, but I cant handle this anymore. We have talked about this over and over. Russell insists that he loves me and doesnt want to break up. However, I read an e-mail in which he said, ... even if I wanted to break up with her, I couldnt financially. That about killed me. Please help me.

DEVASTATED IN IOWA

DEAR DEVASTATED: It appears Whitney is carrying a torch for Russell, and he has a soft spot for her, too. That he changes plans with you when she needs to lean on him, and gets depressed when she leaves, is not encouraging. However, that he uses the same pet names for you both could simply indicate a lack of imagination.

My advice is to stop hiding the fact that you have seen the e-mails and clear the air. I am willing to bet that the e-mail from which you quoted was in reply to Whitneys question, Why dont you break up with her? His answer indicated that he didnt want to end your relationship. Make the e-mail Exhibit A, tell him you snooped because you feel threatened, and then cross your fingers. Russells response will tell you where you and your relationship stand with him.

DEAR ABBY: I am writing to you to alert your readers to ALWAYS check their prescriptions while they are picking them up at the pharmacy. I was given two new prescriptions today. I had already taken one twice when I discovered that the pills in both bottles were the same.

I immediately called the pharmacy and was told that a new pharmacist had made a mistake. Not knowing what the pills were supposed to look like, I never questioned that the prescriptions were correct. I am grateful that it was only the anti-inflammatory drug that got mixed up. The second prescription was a muscle relaxant.

Some pharmacies print (much too small) the type and quantity of the pills on the label. But to be on the safe side, always open and check the contents of your pill container while you are at the pharmacy.

NATALIE

DEAR NATALIE: Im pleased to pass along your reminder, because I have had a similar experience. It never hurts to check, and the optimum time to do it is when you receive your prescription.

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