Dear Abby: Parent gets caught up in teen sons’ drama of lies and betrayal

Breakup sets off a series of events worthy of ‘Gossip Girl.’

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DEAR ABBY: My son dated a girl for 3 1/2 years in high school. Both were sure they had found their life mate. While my husband and I knew it was a long shot, they believed it was true because the girl’s parents had been high school sweethearts.

When school ended, they split up, hoping to remain friends and maybe rekindle when they were older. They are now off to college. Before my son left, rumors started flying that the breakup was his fault, and lies were spread to create a victim and a villain. The gossip came from the girl. My son refused to defend himself. Not one of his friends stood up for him and asked if it was true; they just quietly cut him out.

Three weeks after the breakup, his ex started dating another boy in the friend group. No one, including the parents, have spoken up and pointed out that this is even mildly unethical. To make matters worse, the boy my son’s ex is dating is the brother of my older son’s girlfriend. They are in a serious long-distance relationship, and we were close with this girl’s family. We feel betrayed. Are we overreacting? How can my older son move forward when he has to see his girlfriend’s family all the time? — HARD TO NAVIGATE

DEAR HARD: My advice is to step back and navigate out of this unpleasant situation. Your younger son should thank his lucky stars that his backstabbing ex-girlfriend has moved on. That his friends failed to support him is shameful, but it won’t scar him for life. He will form new relationships and develop new interests in college and put this behind him. Your older son will have to figure out for himself how to handle the delicate situation with his girlfriend’s family. Stay tuned.

DEAR ABBY: My niece, who just turned 5, is twice the size of a normal child her age. Her parents are also overweight. They let her eat what she wants, and the amount of food is what an adult would eat. I am so worried, both from a health perspective as well as about social acceptance by her peers. Must I shut my mouth? How can I address this without alienating them, as I cherish our relationship? — WORRIED IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR WORRIED: To discuss this with the overweight parents would be like tap dancing in a minefield. It could be interpreted as judgmental and make them defensive. However, when your niece is with you, model healthy behavior in your choices of what you eat and serve her to eat. If you do, you will be able to demonstrate that not everyone eats the way her parents do.

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.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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