DEAR ABBY: Our daughter "Bree" has just announced that she's pregnant with her third child. Her other children are 1 and 2. My wife and I are in our 60s and provide chi1d care three days a week, while the other grandma baby-sits for two days. We also pay for preschool and swimming lessons, as well as cook dinner for them on the days when we baby-sit.
Bree and her husband do not earn enough money to support even one child. We know we'll be expected to finance college for the children. When we agreed to help out, we asked them to promise they would not have more than two kids. This third one will cause us to use up our savings, increase our child care responsibilities and take us into our 80s to continue helping. Is it wrong to feel used? I am very depressed over this. -- OVERWHELMED IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR OVERWHELMED: Your depression is understandable. If you don't draw the line now by telling your daughter you can't handle baby-sitting three small children and this wasn't part of the bargain, she may hand you a fourth or fifth to take care of.
You should not sacrifice your retirement savings in order to finance your grandchildren's education. There are other options than your paying for it. The responsibilities you have assumed were not yours in the first place. If you don't insist your daughter and son-in-law stand on their own two feet, you will wind up old, broke, and living on Social Security with nothing to supplement it because your savings will be gone.
DEAR ABBY: My fiance, "Johnny," and I have been together for four years and engaged for 16 months. Our wedding is in a few months. Until recently, Johnny didn't have access to a car. That means for the past four years I have done all the driving, including visiting him at school two hours from my home every three to four weeks.
It didn't bother me because it was out of Johnny's control; his money went to pay for his education. However, because he has a car now, I feel it's reasonable to ask that he do most -- though not all -- of the driving. We live in the same town now and our homes are a mile apart.
Johnny seems to take offense at the suggestion and acts as if I am "punishing" him. I'm not, but I'm tired of driving all the time and would like a break now that he can give me one. What do you think? -- AT THE WHEEL AGAINST MY WILL
DEAR AT THE WHEEL: Johnny has grown accustomed to, and spoiled by, the chauffeur service you have provided. That he should assume responsibility for his share of the driving now that he has a car of his own is not an onerous request.
Although you have been together four years, the two of you need to have a talk and work this out. And because you have been apart for the years he has been in school, I also recommend that you schedule premarital counseling before the wedding -- in case there are any other "differences of opinion" that need to be worked out.
DEAR ABBY: I'll be 40 this year and I'm experiencing a midlife crisis. I have been married for 19 years, but realized several months ago that I haven't been happy in years.
I want to make some changes in my life, but I'm insecure about going it alone after so many years. I have been feeling a strong need to be on my own for a while to explore my passions and options. Any advice on how to explain this to my husband? -- IN FLUX IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR IN FLUX: Before you throw away a marriage of nearly 20 years, please discuss this with a licensed therapist. Your therapist can help you decide what to do. While you may tell your husband this isn't about him -- it's about you -- he is sure to take the news very personally. And once you have separated in order to explore your passions and options, he will do the same, and it may not be possible to "go home" again.