Dear Abby: Should I reach out to dad who left during my childhood?

Now 50, woman is curious about his life, and her children are curious about their grandfather.

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DEAR ABBY: My parents divorced when I was an infant. My father had weekend visitations with me sporadically, if at all. Growing up, I was super angry at him for leaving and blamed him for not being around while I was abused by my stepfather. I haven’t seen my father in person since I was 18.

As a 40-year-old woman with children, I’m thinking about reaching out. My kids are curious about their grandfather. I’m curious about his life. Can I really be mature enough to get to know him? How do I keep my anger in check and not demand an answer for every bad deed on his part? Is it worth it? I don’t want to be manipulated. The rest of his family doesn’t speak to him, either. — REVISITING HISTORY IN TENNESSEE

DEAR REVISITING: Have you ever tried discussing the reason for the failure of your parents’ marriage with the other relatives? If you haven’t, you should. If she stood silently by while you were abused by her second husband, she bears part of the responsibility for the abuse.

Because you feel the need to know about your father’s life, reach out and ask him. There is usually more than one side to stories like this. However, your chances of getting the answers you’re looking for will improve if you refrain from doing it with a chip on your shoulder.

DEAR ABBY: I have two sons, 28 and 23. My 23-year-old has pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). He has always struggled in school, with friends, society, jobs and in dealing with his emotional highs and lows.

My older son and his fiancee tell me I should force him to go out on his own — “make him snap out of it.” I have tried to explain his condition, but they don’t listen because it’s not considered a severe disability disease. They are convinced he will be fine and that I need to stop caring for him. My mother and brother, who have been very involved in my son’s life, feel I’m doing the right thing by looking for a home where he will have his own separate apartment.

How do I get through to these insistent individuals that I am doing what is best for him? I have supported my oldest son and his fiancee and son extensively over the years, while my youngest son never asks for financial help. I try to give equally of myself to both of my children, and I can’t understand why they want to see my youngest suffer. Please advise. — CARING MOM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

DEAR CARING MOM: Your older son and his fiancee may have taken the stance they have because of jealousy, greed or ignorance. Your younger son should be forced out on his own so he will “snap out of it”? You are a responsible and protective parent, doing what you feel is right for a son with challenges.

That said, have you considered what his future will be if something should happen to you? For this reason, start a discussion with your son’s doctor about what supportive services for him are available should it become necessary, so you — and he — will be prepared. Clearly, your older son and his fiancee can’t be counted on.

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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