DEAR ABBY: My friend recently had a baby and could really use my daughter's old clothes, as our girls are only a year apart and I have saved practically everything. But it will cost a considerable amount to ship several boxes, and I could use the extra money myself if I sold the clothes at a tag sale. Would I be cheap if I asked that when my friend is done with them, she donate the clothes to a charity and send me back the tax donation forms? -- WANTS TO KNOW IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR WANTS TO KNOW: First, a gentle reminder that once a gift is given, it belongs to the recipient. And yes, I believe you would come across as cheap. Either give the clothes out of the goodness of your heart, knowing you will reap rewards beyond the financial -- or donate them yourself.
DEAR ABBY: "Full of Feeling in Arizona" (Jan. 21) wrote about her husband lacking sympathy, and was worried he may not be there emotionally for her children in the event of her dying before he does. Your answer to her was to "outlive him," which had me rolling in laughter.
Perhaps another idea might be to write letters to her children now. A heartfelt letter taking family members through the loss of their mom (from their mom) or dad (from their mom who has already passed) may be very comforting to some. Or several letters for different occasions could be a beautiful gift. Just a thought. -- CHRISSY IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR CHRISSY: Other readers suggested letter writing (and a personalized video message) as potential solutions to this problem. Read on for a sampling of other comments:
DEAR ABBY: Perhaps the mom should identify a relative or family friend to be aware of this issue and ready to step in and provide some support if needed. If the children and this person are alerted beforehand, they will know whom to turn to in case Mom predeceases her husband. Each child may wish to designate his or her own source of support, but the purpose of this exercise is to reassure the mother that her kids will not be alone. -- MAURA IN OREGON
DEAR ABBY: This woman needs to know that it's OK for her husband to be hard-nosed about death. While he should be more sympathetic to the feelings of others, he wasn't raised that way. His way of handling it is to put up a wall. Some people don't have the same depth of feelings as others. Mine are much more matter-of-fact than my friends'. But I can appreciate that we all grieve in different ways. -- DAVID IN MICHIGAN
DEAR ABBY: That woman's husband could have Asperger's syndrome, a type of high-functioning autism. These individuals, although accomplished and intelligent in many areas, have difficulty processing empathy. It makes them seem uncaring. This condition makes interaction between spouses extremely frustrating and difficult. It's worth considering. -- AUDREY IN PENNSYLVANIA