Dear Abby: People think I’m girl’s grandma, but I’m her mom

Woman considers plastic surgery to feel better about her looks.

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DEAR ABBY: I had my daughter later in life. I was almost 41. I am no beauty queen, but now, 12 years later, I have been asked by two different people if I am my daughter’s grandmother. It was so upsetting, I cried for weeks. I have always been self-conscious about my looks.

My daughter is now going to be a teenager. I don’t want her future high school friends thinking I am her grandma, so I’ve been contemplating plastic surgery. My family insists I don’t need it. They’re calling me vain, foolish, selfish, etc. My husband is discouraging me because of the cost. (He’s pretty frugal.)

Would it be selfish if it will make me feel better about myself? In the meantime, how do I handle any more “grandma” comments without punching someone in the nose? — NOT THAT OLD IN FLORIDA

DEAR NOT THAT OLD: In case you haven’t noticed, an increasing number of women are having children in their 40s (and a few even older). If you are contemplating cosmetic surgery only because you have a young child, a cheaper and more effective way to deal with it would be to simply tell the truth, which is that she’s your daughter.

While cosmetic surgery can make someone more confident about their looks, it is not the case for everyone. Your family should not be ridiculing you for wanting to explore the option. A licensed mental health professional can help you decide whether you need a surgical procedure or an attitude adjustment. If it’s the former, schedule an appointment with a qualified surgeon to discuss your options.

DEAR ABBY: I recently attended an engagement party at a restaurant for our son and his fiancee. The party was hosted by our son as a surprise for his fiancee. As an engagement gift to the couple, my husband and I, together with the mother of the bride-to-be and the bride’s sisters, chipped in (with our son) to cover the cost of the party.

During the party, my husband’s sister, an invited guest, took it upon herself to quietly pay the bill for the entire affair. We didn’t find out until we went to settle the bill at the end of the night. She did not do it anonymously, and she was very pleased about the attention this garnered for her.

We were upset that she didn’t ask us before she did this. We would have gladly accepted her kicking in SOME money toward the affair, or better yet, giving the money directly to the couple, but we were not happy that she commandeered our gift to our children the way she did.

When we approached her to discuss this, she became defensive and refused to see our side of the situation. Obviously, this isn’t life or death, but what is your opinion? Was it proper for her to have done this etiquette-wise? — WONDERING IN THE EAST

DEAR WONDERING: In the Bible (Matthew 6:1) it is written, “Be careful not to do your good works in public in order to attract attention. If you do, your Father in Heaven will not reward you.” (And neither, it seems, will your relatives here on Earth.)

”Lady bountiful” appears to be quite a handful. If her generosity was spurred by a compulsion to steal the spotlight, she managed it beautifully. Was it “proper etiquette-wise”? We both know it wasn’t.

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.

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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