DEAR ABBY: My son had an affair that resulted in the birth of a child outside his marriage. The baby is extremely ill. My daughter-in-law has forgiven my son for his infidelity, and along with my two grandchildren the little family is trying to rebuild and also do right by the baby.
The baby’s mother stays in contact with us, although she is bitter and unpleasant to my son because he would not leave his family for her. However, she does keep us abreast of the baby’s ongoing medical condition and needs. She confided to me that she got pregnant hoping that my son would finally leave his family. My question is: How do I handle the relationship we have been forced into with the baby’s mother? I need moral guidance, and some kind of etiquette guidance as well. — MORAL DILEMMA IN GEORGIA
DEAR M.D.: Don’t blame the woman for feeling bitter. Her attempt to force your son into leaving his family failed, and she’s now responsible for a very sick child. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the baby is your grandchild, and she is your grandchild’s mother. Treat her with kindness. Don’t make things more difficult than they are by being hostile or judgmental. She’s paying for this affair and will for many years to come. Remember always that she is manipulative, but treat her with compassion.
DEAR ABBY: I have a good friend I’ve known for 35 years. I was there for her during some rough times when we were both living paycheck-to-paycheck. Long story short, she’s now married to a millionaire, and every time we get together, she insists on picking up the check. Truthfully, I suppose it makes no sense for me to pay. I get that. Fifty dollars to me is like 50 cents to her. But the last thing I want is for her to feel I’m taking advantage or taking her for granted. Once I did grab the dinner tab, and she really let me have it! Am I overthinking this? Should I just accept her good fortune and generosity? — VALUES FRIENDSHIP IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR VALUES FRIENDSHIP: It appears your friend also values friendship and appreciates how precious long-term relationships are. The two of you have a lot of shared history, and that kind of friendship isn’t easy to replicate. I do think you should accept her generosity, but I also think you should share your feelings with her so she can put your mind at ease. If it will make you feel less indebted, consider giving her an occasional gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful.
DEAR ABBY: What are the best words to use when you realize the psychotherapist you recently began therapy with isn’t the right one for you? Should the words be said in person, over the phone in his voicemail or in writing? I want to get this over with as soon as possible and start looking for someone who may better suit me and my issues. — LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT ONE IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR LOOKING: The words are, “This isn’t working for me, and I won’t be coming back.” Be sure to tell the person why. Your message can be conveyed face-to-face, as a phone message or in writing. The choice is yours.
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