DEAR ABBY: I have a 5-year-old grandson I adore. His mother (my daughter) is a single parent who left the father of her child after he beat her up. He was charged and spent six months in jail. We assured him at the time that he would have no financial or social obligations to his child whatsoever, and they have had no contact since the incident. That was five years ago when my grandson was a newborn.
My question: What do we tell my grandson when he asks about his father? Please understand that this man is a drug dealer and gang member from a "family" of gang-bangers who have all done jail time. He's also a high school dropout with no future.
I see no good coming from my precious grandson knowing anything about his father, who lives in the next town. My daughter has a good job and is raising my grandson in a loving, healthy and stable environment. He is surrounded by fine role models.
What I'd like to do is tell my grandson his father is dead. What do you think, Abby? -- CONCERNED GRANDFATHER IN SEATTLE
DEAR CONCERNED: Although it's tempting, I don't recommend it. If you lie, that untruth will come back to haunt all of you, and your grandson will wonder what other lies he was told.
When he asks, it would be better to tell the boy that when he was born, his father was too immature to be a parent and agreed that his son should be raised by his mother and her family. Later on, when he is older, he should be told the truth. Be prepared to offer him professional counseling at that time to help him deal with any feelings of rejection.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Danny," and I have been married for nearly four years. We never had a problem until my sister, "Tina," and her kids moved in with us. Danny gets upset because Tina lets her kids do whatever they feel like. Our house is always a mess and they waste a lot of food that we have paid for. Danny wants me to tell Tina that she must control her kids or find another place to live.
I feel bad for Tina because she has no place to go. However, I love my husband and want our marriage to be like it was before Tina moved in. What should I do? -- DESPERATE IN OHIO
DEAR DESPERATE: Accept the fact that you can't continue living like this. Your sister needs a goal. Give her a specific date to be out of your home and help her to do whatever is necessary to leave -- job, affordable apartment, child care, etc. She'll thank you for it later, and you will save your marriage.
DEAR ABBY: Here's another use for old pantyhose: Whenever I get a run in a pair, I throw them in the washer, then cut the legs off right above where the control section starts (to keep the top from fraying). After discarding the "girdle," I put the clean, cut-up legs in a drawer in the kitchen.
Whenever I purchase onions, I slip a stocking over one of them until it rests securely in the top. Then I tie a knot about an inch above it and insert the next onion -- and so on -- continuing to the top of the leg.
I hang the stocking inside the basement door, out of the way. Whenever I need an onion, I simply cut one off from the bottom (right below the knot). My onions last longer -- while I get the satisfaction of one more use out of an old pair of pantyhose. -- RUTH IN CALEDONIA, MICH.
DEAR RUTH: And if an intruder should enter your home, you can always use it for self-defense!
DEAR ABBY: After a two-year engagement, my husband and I were married three years ago. After the engagement announcement, my mother surprised me with the news that she and my father were going to renew their wedding vows. I was happy for them until my mother began planning their ceremony around the time of our wedding. I felt she was trying to steal the limelight from me -- and she did.
Two months ago, I announced that I am two months' pregnant. Yesterday, my mother announced that SHE is pregnant. (She had me when I was 15.) Abby, now she wants us to have baby showers on the same day. Do you think this is my mother's attempt to stay connected with me? -- TRYING TO REMAIN CALM IN DENVER
DEAR TRYING: No. I think that on an unconscious level, there is competition going on. However, since there is nothing you can do about it, the best advice I can offer is to live your own life, and spend less time looking over your shoulder to see what your mother is doing. Under no circumstances should you allow these "coincidences" to lessen your own happiness.
DEAR ABBY: I am a freshman at a college located two hours away from home. My brother, "Jeff," who is three years younger, still lives at home. I miss him until he comes to visit -- then it's a different story.
Jeff shows no respect for me, my lifestyle or my dorm room. He demands that I entertain him -- even though my schedule is filled to the max with classes and work. He makes a mess of my room (like spilling soda and not cleaning it up) and makes rude comments about my boyfriend behind his back. My brother has gone so far as to make some outrageous statements like, "Anyone who is not Christian is going to hell!" (My boyfriend is Jewish.)
How am I supposed to continue having Jeff visit if he causes nothing but stress and embarrassment and leaves my room trashed? My parents don't see any problem and think I'm blowing this out of proportion. Any suggestions, Abby? -- FED UP IN NEW YORK STATE
DEAR SIS: There may be only three years' difference in your ages, but emotionally your brother is a rebellious, self-centered adolescent.
If I were you, I would limit Jeff's visits until he's older, wiser, and willing to show more respect and tolerance for you and your friends.
DEAR ABBY: I am a mother of five who has been married for 18 years. The letters in your column from brides-to-be and graduates asking the best way to keep track of gifts prompts me to write.
When I was 20 and planning my wedding, my mother-in-law-to-be gave me a terrific tip: The name, address and phone number of each guest attending the wedding was written on a 3-by-5-inch index card and stored alphabetically in a recipe box.
After the wedding, as my husband and I opened each gift, we wrote what the gift was on that person's index card and returned it to the box.
When it was time to write thank-you notes, I needed only to refer to the box to know who gave what and never had to worry about a "lost" address or gift card. All the necessary info was right there on the cards -- and in alphabetical order. -- JUDY IN OHIO
DEAR JUDY: That's a wonderful idea, one that's easy to implement and can alleviate a lot of headaches. In this day and age, when the thank-you note responsibilities are shared by both brides and grooms, I'm sure your suggestion will be appreciated.
Pauline Phillips and her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, share the pseudonym Abigail Van Buren. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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