Dear Abby: Man employs son but ridicules him behind his back

The employee’s mother considers revealing what her ex-husband is saying about him.

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DEAR ABBY: My ex-husband and I have been divorced 24 years and, now that our children are grown, we have minimal contact. We see and speak to each other only when there’s a wedding or a birthday party for our grandson.

Three years ago, our 34-year-old son went to work for his father with the promise that “someday the business would be his.” Our son left a well-paying job to work for his father, but from past experience I know my ex isn’t trustworthy. He often lies to get what he wants, and his promises rarely come to fruition.

Now I’m hearing from former in-laws I’ve remained close to, as well as our other children, that my ex does nothing but complain and belittle our son. He shares every mistake our son has made over the last three years and even personal information about our son’s finances. Naturally, it upsets me to hear these things.

What do I do? Should I tell my son what his father is saying about him? Do I confront my ex, even though I’m sure he will deny saying these things? Or should I just butt out, because, after all, my son is an adult? — CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE

DEAR CAUGHT: Talk to your son. Tell him what these relatives are repeating to you. It’s better than remaining silent and letting him stay in the dark. How he chooses to deal with his father after that is up to him — including telling dear old Dad he needs something in writing to guarantee he gets the business in the event of Dad’s demise. (No one lives forever, as the saying goes.) If Dad refuses, your son will be better off looking for another job rather than waste any more of his time.

DEAR ABBY: Almost 40 years ago, I betrayed a friend. She was a classmate, and we went to the same church. Along with others, I suggested she was someone who slept around and had an STD. At the time, I didn’t even completely understand what an STD was; I just went along with the crowd. I have often regretted that day. I was never the kind of person to do that to someone. I have felt awful for publicly shaming her.

I tried reaching out to her on Facebook, but she will not acknowledge me. I really don’t blame her. Our 40th class reunion is coming up soon, and I see on the class website she plans to be there. I would like to see some of our classmates, but I’m ashamed. With all my heart, I am sorry for what I did back then, but I am afraid she might call me out on it. What should I do? — ASHAMED IN TEXAS

DEAR ASHAMED: Stop stalking your former classmate on Facebook to soothe your guilty conscience. You may not have known back in high school what an STD was, but you were aware of the cruelty of slut-shaming. Attend the reunion, and if she “calls you out,” apologize to her privately and hope she forgives you.

DEAR VETERANS: For your service to our nation, I salute you. My thanks to each of you on this Veterans Day. You are the personification of patriotism, self-sacrifice and dedication to our country. I would also like to recognize your families for the sacrifices they, too, have made. — Love, ABBY

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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