Dear Abby: Can I turn my back on my father, a bully who always cuts me down?

The narcissistic man disrespects women and enjoys shaming his children and grandchildren.

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DEAR ABBY: I can’t stand being around my dad. I love my mom, but no longer respect her because she stays married to him. He’s a narcissistic bully. My brother agrees. My parents and I live in the same town and get together for holidays, birthdays and other events. My brother lives out of state.

I grew up with Playboy magazines lying around the house, watching my father ogle women and comment on their bodies, including mine. He shamed us constantly in front of others and thought it was funny. When I finally found my voice, he called me a b- - - -. He isn’t supportive and never hesitates to tell me how I’m doing something wrong. He yells at my dogs and my kids for being dogs/kids.

I would love to not see him again, but he’s my dad, and my mom loves him. I don’t want to buy him gifts or cards on his special days because it’s insincere, but I find myself doing it anyway. How do I handle this and reconcile the conflict I know will ensue if I make myself happy? — STRUGGLING IN NEVADA

DEAR STRUGGLING: Sometimes strategic withdrawal is better than an argument. Stop exposing your children and your pets to your abusive, hypercritical father’s rants, and if your mother notices and asks why, be honest with her. See her separately if you wish, but avoid your father whenever possible. If you must see him and he starts acting up, leave. If you feel you have to gift him “something” on his special days, make it a generic card so you will feel less like a hypocrite. You deserve to be happy, and if you follow my advice, I predict your children will be happier, too.

DEAR ABBY: I lost my husband to COVID-19 five months ago. We were married for 40 years. I loved him with all my heart and always will. I met someone through a dating site who lost his wife to cancer a year ago. They were married 37 years and, like me, he loved his mate dearly.

We each have grown children. My daughter knows about him, but he hasn’t told his children about me. We live three hours apart, and while doing work for his son, he drove an hour and a half to meet me and have lunch. I thought that was so nice. We really seemed to hit it off and want to be together.

Although I’m a grown woman and know what I want, I need to know if you think it is appropriate for me to consider being with this man and possibly moving in with him after only five months since my husband’s death. — LONELY LADY IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR LONELY LADY: Although this man may have possibilities, he still isn’t comfortable enough in the relationship to introduce you to his children. And nowhere in your letter did you mention that he has talked about the idea of you moving in with him. I think you are jumping the gun right now, and although it isn’t too soon to consider the possibilities, I do not think you should push.

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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