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by Abigail Van Buren

Sorrowful in Laws Are Silent Victims of Divorce

DEAR ABBY: I just hung up after calling our former son-in-law to wish him happiness and good luck on his wedding day tomorrow. Oh, how it hurts! We love him, and have loved him, since he came into our family almost 30 years ago. Our daughter has never wanted us to hate him. She doesn't. They had a friendly divorce (sometimes the hardest kind to understand), so we were not betraying her by calling him.

Abby, I just wanted to write to you to put in a good word for loving in-laws. I know that children are the victims of divorce, and that they must learn to accept the decisions of their parents. But on the other hand, we, as parents, must accept the decisions of our children, and silently mourn the loss of someone we love and years of family memories. We, too, are victims. Thank you for listening. -- HEALING TOO SLOWLY IN ILLINOIS

DEAR HEALING: You appear to be a caring and sensitive woman. Perhaps it will speed your healing to keep uppermost in mind that neither your daughter nor your former son-in-law seems to regret the decision to go their separate ways.

I am reminded of the famous line from Reinhold Niebuhr's "The Serenity Prayer": "God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."

DEAR ABBY: I give private music lessons in my home. Most of my students are children who come with their parents and other siblings. Increasingly, I am finding these people's manners to be appalling. The children are allowed to explore every part of my home while their parents sit and do nothing. I end up having to interrupt the lessons while I find "Junior," usually in some private part of my home. I've even had parents disappear into my kitchen, and I can hear them in my cupboards and refrigerator!

Even though I don't have the most expensive furniture, I do not want shoes on my couch or open drinks on my table. Not even my yard, flowers, wind chimes or birdbath is safe from these invaders. Having a private lesson -- music, art or whatever -- should be considered a privilege and an honor. It is certainly preferable to a noisy music store or art studio. Maybe if a few people read this, they will wake up and realize that their actions do matter. -- MUSIC TEACHER, WASHINGTON STATE

DEAR MUSIC TEACHER: When you are conducting lessons, your home is your office. It is up to you to set boundaries. The parts of your home you wish to keep private should be closed off. Post signs reminding visitors to refrain from touching, not entering, etc. Provide a comfortable seating area with reading material and/or toys for the siblings -- and stick to your guns.

DEAR ABBY: My mother and father divorced about 10 years ago, after almost 30 years of marriage. The divorce was nasty and painful for everyone involved. There are still unresolved issues and bad feelings.

My mother and my father's mother were very close until the divorce. After that, my mother no longer felt she belonged in the family. They have sent each other occasional birthday cards and have seen each other about three times over the last 10 years.

My paternal grandmother is now in her late 80s, and although she is still in fairly good health, one never knows when her time will come. My question: Should my mother attend the funeral even though my father will be there with his girlfriend? -- STUCK IN THE MIDDLE IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR STUCK: Bearing in mind that your grandmother may have many good years ahead of her, the decision is entirely your mother's. If she feels like attending the funeral and paying her respects (when the time comes), there's no reason why she shouldn't.

CONFIDENTIAL TO MY READERS: Have a joyous Kwanzaa.

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