Dear Abby: Man demands apologies from father and brother, makes mom the middleman

Son threatens to stop visiting unless she gets his dad, a recovering alcoholic, and his sibling to say they’re sorry for their past behavior.

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DEAR ABBY: My son is demanding that I tell his father and brother to call him to apologize for past behaviors and attitudes that hurt him. He says if I don’t, he will no longer come home for any visits. He lives in the East; we are in the Midwest. I have traveled alone to visit him, but it’s getting harder as my car and I age.

His father had alcohol issues as well as mental health issues and was abusive, but has been sober for several years now. I have been in Al-Anon for more than 25 years and still attend meetings. I don’t know how to respond to my son’s demands. What’s your advice? — MEDIATING MOM IN IOWA

DEAR MOM: I don’t blame your son for avoiding people who cause him pain. Tell him that an apology that is coerced is no apology at all. Part of addiction recovery is the requirement to make amends to those the addict has wronged or hurt. Your husband has not done that, nor has your son’s brother. Continue to visit your son as long as you can, but do not allow him to involve you in this, because it won’t work.

DEAR ABBY: I’ve been seeing “Ronald” for a little more than a year. He’s nine years older than I am, and we don’t really have a lot in common. He has feelings for me, but I don’t feel the same toward him. He has helped me out a lot financially, and doesn’t expect me to pay him back.

The problem is, I have met someone else. “Jack” and I have so much in common. We knew a lot of the same people when we were younger. He recognized me after I showed him a picture from my younger days. We both have feelings for each other. He’s a year younger than I am. I just don’t know what to do. Please help. — MIXED-UP IN THE SOUTH

DEAR MIXED-UP: Be an adult. Summon the courage to tell Ronald that you have reconnected with someone you knew years ago, and you would like to pursue it. Explain that you are being upfront because you feel it wouldn’t be fair or honest to keep him in the dark. Then thank him for his friendship and his help, and tell him you are grateful for the kindness and generosity he has shown you.

DEAR ABBY: I am being asked to donate to my grandchildren’s fundraisers for school activities like band, cheerleading, etc. This is happening via email requests from a third-party site using their name. My issue is, I believe my grandchildren should ask me personally, or at least warn me they’re raising money for their activity and I’ll be receiving an email. Am I wrong to want a personal request? — GROUCHY GRAN IN NEW MEXICO

DEAR GRAN: You are not wrong. However, this may be an instance of technology running amok. When you receive a solicitation like this, pick up the phone, tell your grandchildren it showed up and confirm it’s legitimate. Make the conversation a friendly one and ask what’s going on with them, and if you feel like contributing, say so. At the end of the conversation, remind them that you would love to hear about the activity before receiving an automated request for money.

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.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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