DEAR ABBY: I am a 25-year-old single father of one. Recently, for the first time in my life, I came into contact with my biological father, whom I have never known. The reason for this is my mother hid the facts from me. Even with the local school district providing some information, as well as his own parents, I could never get any details out of the one person who should have been the first to offer them -- my mother. She does not know I have been in contact with my biological father, and neither does the man who raised me.
I want to let them know what is going on without hurting their feelings. I don't want "Dad" feeling like I have turned my back on him after 25 years of his being there for me. On top of all this, my son, who is 6, has been asking me about his own mother. (I won sole custody.)
My mother says he "doesn't need to know about the incubator." I think he deserves to know the truth -- just as I did. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. -- DECADES OF CONFUSION IN N.Y.
DEAR DECADES: It is time to speak up and inform your mother and stepfather that you and your biological father have reunited. At the same time, let them know that you wish to spare your son the pain and confusion you experienced because "the facts" were hidden from you. You are the child's father, and your wishes should prevail. The sooner he is told the truth, the easier it will be to accept.
P.S. The fact that you are in contact with your birth father does not mean that you are ungrateful or "turning your back" on anyone. Please do not make your mother and stepfather's insecurities your problem. Family counseling may be your next logical step.
DEAR ABBY: What is the proper response to store clerks, office personnel and others who routinely call people by their first name, often people they have never seen before?
Whatever happened to the correct designation of "Mister" or "Ma'am"? -- MR. M. IN ALBUQUERQUE
DEAR MR. M.: Believe it or not, many people are not offended at being addressed by their first name. The way to handle it is to smile, and tell the person, "I prefer to be called Mr. M." It's direct, non-confrontational, and gets the message across.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Marvin," thinks that because we work together that we spend all day together, when in reality we may actually speak for a minute or two, three or four times a day. When we go home, Marvin immediately gets on the computer, which is in an alcove upstairs removed from everyone else. He'll come down to eat dinner and then gets back on the computer for the next four or five hours.
On weekends, he spends from 10 to 14 hours a day on the computer. Then he goes to bed. If I ask him to spend time with me and/or our children, he tells me I am "picking on him."
This has been going on for the last 13 years or more. I can understand why a woman would start talking to another man. Marvin is not there for me mentally, and I'm all alone.
He is good to me as far as worldly goods are concerned, but I couldn't care less about that. What good is it when you have no one to share your life with? What would you suggest I do? -- ALONE AND LONELY IN VIRGINIA
DEAR ALONE AND LONELY: What took you so long to write? The first thing you should do is check the "history" on the computer in the alcove, and see where your husband has been spending the time he should have been spending with you and the children. Then, armed with that information, offer him the option of marriage counseling before your marriage is so eroded that it can never be revived. If he refuses, seek counseling on your own to find out why you tolerated for so long a marriage without communication or companionship, and explore your options. In counseling you will find the answers you need.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)