DEAR ABBY: My husband and I disagree on something. Do you think parents MUST do the same things for each of their children, even when there is a great discrepancy in the children's behavior and attitude toward their parents?
We have helped out one of our sons who was having financial difficulties. Now the other son, "Sean," expects to receive the same, although he is defiant and does not treat us with the same respect as his sibling. My husband says because we did it for one child, we must do it for the other. I disagree, and think it's rewarding bad behavior. -- FEUDING IN WISCONSIN
DEAR FEUDING: Sean does not have the right to "demand" anything from you. However, to give one of your sons money while withholding it from the other will create a rift between them that may never heal, and I do not recommend it.
Tempting as it may be to use your checkbook to command compliance, please realize that it won't gain you the respect you feel is lacking. A better solution would be to insist on family counseling as a condition of giving the money. It's an investment that could yield great dividends.
DEAR ABBY: I was at the store yesterday with my Gramma when she ran into a friend she hadn't seen in some time. (Her friend is about 87.) As they were talking, Gramma asked her a question that shocked me. She asked, "Do you still have your husband?"
After we left, I told Gramma I thought it was rude to ask someone that question. Her response was, "It's perfectly fine to ask that of someone her age." Is she right? -- KNOW I'M RIGHT IN LAS VEGAS, N.M.
DEAR KNOW YOU'RE RIGHT: The question was not a breach of etiquette. By the time women reach their eighth decade, I'm sad to say, most of them have lost their husbands. Your grandmother's question was legitimate, although she might have been more diplomatic and asked "how" her friend's husband was, rather than if she still had him.
DEAR ABBY: The "pennies from heaven" letters in your column have been a blessing to me. "Patrick" and I were together eight years when he died unexpectedly after turning 31 last February. We considered ourselves married, and never thought we'd need a marriage license to formalize our love.
When Patrick died, his family took his body. They emptied our apartment the next day and refuse to tell me where he is buried.
Three times in the last month I have found pennies dated 1977 -- the year Patrick was born. One particularly shiny one appeared on the passenger seat of my car on my first day back at work. I'm sure it is his way of telling me not to worry, that he is close by.
Thank you for printing those stories. They have been a source of great comfort to me. -- MOURNING IN SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR MOURNING: Please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss. I'm gratified the "pennies" letters have brought you some solace, as they have many other readers, and I hope your experience will enlighten any couple who thinks a marriage license is "only a piece of paper."
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