DEAR ABBY: I really could use some outside advice. I am a stepmother who raised my husband’s 18-year-old son, “Todd.” We have given him a loving home. Todd’s abusive mother abandoned him at 16, and he has lived with us ever since.
I have been a caring and generous mother to him since he was 6. I have always gone out of my way to make sure he feels comfortable, loved, fed, etc. So I couldn’t help but feel slapped in the face when he told me he doesn’t want to have his graduation party at our home. He said he is having it at his friend’s parents’ house. This is the same couple who disapproved of their son spending time in our home while the boys grew up because we’re not their religion.
I don’t know how to handle this gracefully without feeling hurt or refusing to be a part of it. I know this may seem childish, but it’s how I feel on the inside. Can you help me? — DISAPPOINTED IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: It might help to realize this isn’t a personal slap in the face. His friend’s parents may have something special planned that Todd doesn’t want to miss. It has nothing to do with your parenting and plenty to do with his level of immaturity and perhaps the appeal of the other house. (Ask him.) Please be smart and refrain from making this about you, because it isn’t.
DEAR ABBY: My husband has reconnected with an ex-wife from more than 50 years ago. He found her on Facebook. They chat every day, several times a day. Before he reconnected with her, he would talk about her, how she was his first love and he would always have a special place for her in his heart, even though she cheated on him and left him. Now he has begun calling her a pet name he used to call me. Is this cheating, or am I overreacting? — BETRAYED IN OHIO
DEAR BETRAYED: You are not overreacting. Your husband is involved in an emotional affair. For the sake of your marriage, it needs to stop. If he won’t accept it from you, perhaps he will listen to his religious adviser, a marriage counselor or your lawyer. Do not try to fight this alone; you may need their help along the way.
DEAR ABBY: My husband of 63 years died three years ago. He was sexually abused by a family friend when he was very young and never disclosed it. He shared it with me some 20 years after our marriage and asked me not to tell our four children.
At some point, I shared it with my grown daughter, but not my three grown sons. Was I wrong to do this? My daughter feels I should tell them, and I sort of agree. Their relationship with their father was loving, but also strained. Should I tell them now or let it be? — UNSURE IN MICHIGAN
DEAR UNSURE: I agree with your daughter. Because the sexual abuse your husband suffered may have affected the relationship he had with your sons, it might be helpful if they understand the reason why it was the way it was. Sunshine on dark places can yield positive outcomes.
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