DEAR ABBY: My sisters and I just realized after comparing notes that our grandfather, who has been giving us an allowance for many years, gives each of us a different amount. We don't understand why he would do that unless he is playing favorites. Mom says it's because he's allowed to give each of us a certain amount per year for tax purposes, but it still doesn't explain why the amounts are all different.
We are a year apart in age, and the differences are substantial. Mom said Grandpa does this with her brothers and sisters, too.
Why wouldn't he give each of us the same amount so that it doesn't cause hard feelings? I know it's his money to do with as he pleases and we're lucky to get any at all, but knowing this has caused hurt feelings. We don't feel comfortable asking him, but we'd like to understand. What can we do? -- LACKING "WHY"
DEAR LACKING "WHY": Having never met your grandfather, I can't speculate about what his motives might be. While it's not a good idea to look a gift-grandpa in the mouth, the only way you're going to get the answers you and your sisters are looking for would be to ask him. However, if you do, make sure to phrase the question in a nonconfrontational way -- and be prepared for whatever his answer might be.
DEAR ABBY: I am the 49-year-old single dad of an incredible 7-year-old daughter. I have been separated from her mother for four years. Since that time my ex has had a few relationships, one of which produced another child.
Three months ago she met a new man and has decided to get married, even though their courtship has been brief. I'm trying to minimize the impact on our daughter, but everything I say to my ex comes across as toxic. Any suggestions? -- CONFLICTED FATHER IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA
DEAR CONFLICTED FATHER: There is nothing you can do to control your ex's behavior. But you are right to try to minimize the impact on your little girl. Do not allow her to be caught in the crossfire of your anger and her mom's defensiveness. While I, too, question your ex's judgment in marrying someone she has known for only a short time, there is nothing to be gained by "spewing toxin."
In your interactions with your ex, think before you speak, count to 10 to mellow your tone and focus on the fact that you are the stabilizing force in your child's life. It's your job to remain strong and steady.
DEAR ABBY: I recently broke up with a man I had dated for more than two years. While we were together he gave me many gifts of jewelry.
Yesterday when I was dressing to go out, I started to put on a necklace that went with my outfit, then hesitated because it had been a gift from him. I knew I'd be seeing him that evening and that I would be meeting his new girlfriend.
Would it have been OK to wear the necklace? Most of the things he gave me were animal-related because he knew I love animals. If someone asks me where I got it, as they often do, what should I say? I don't want to jeopardize the friendship we have or my potential friendship with his girlfriend. -- MIXED UP IN THE SOUTH
DEAR MIXED UP: An appropriate answer would be, "It was given to me by a friend." Your question implies that you decided against wearing the necklace that day, and I think you used good judgment.