DEAR ABBY: Twelve years ago, our 16-year-old daughter, "Heather," began dating "Johnny," a nice boy from a troubled home. During the three years they went together, Johnny became almost like a foster son to us. We provided emotional support he didn't get at home, and he even lived with us for a year before going to college.
Even though Heather's relationship with him ended nine years ago, we have stayed close to Johnny. He has spent every Christmas at our home.
Heather married last summer and wants to bring her new husband home for Christmas this year. (Since we live on opposite coasts, visits are infrequent.)
Our daughter has no objection to her former boyfriend's presence, but her husband refuses to come if Johnny is here -- which he has been every Christmas for the past 12 years. Heather defends her husband and has requested we disinvite Johnny.
I feel torn about what to do, Abby. On the one hand, I don't want to distance my daughter and her husband, whom we are still getting to know. On the other hand, I feel a responsibility for Johnny with whom we've grown so close. Over the years he has come to count on our love and support and considers us his "family." What in the world should I do? -- CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE
DEAR CAUGHT: It is regrettable that your daughter's husband feels threatened by this man who is such a large part of all your lives. Chalk it up to immaturity, insecurity and a controlling nature.
However, to keep peace in the family, invite Johnny to spend any holidays with you that your daughter and son-in-law cannot.
P.S. Heather should be the one to break the news to Johnny. After all, she's an adult now. It should be done soon, so he can make other plans.
DEAR ABBY: Our son came to us and said that his friend -- I'll call her Cheryl -- wanted to stay with us until she got on her feet. We agreed.
Cheryl had a job making $10 an hour, but she quit. She says she's looking for another job, but from what we see, all Cheryl does is party with her friends and go to church. Then she sleeps all day.
Our son is sleeping on the couch. Cheryl is living in his bedroom. When she comes in late she disturbs his sleep, and he has to be at work at 3:30 a.m.
Cheryl refuses to follow our house rules. Once in a while, she will sweep or do the dishes, but that's all she contributes. Her mother lives in town, but Cheryl says she can't stay with her parents. She gave our son one reason, and me a different one.
It has been two months, Abby. We would like her to move out, but she has no job. What should we do? -- HAD IT IN LAS VEGAS
DEAR HAD IT: Cheryl is not your responsibility. Give her a deadline to make other living arrangements and be out of your home -- and insist upon it! You'll be doing her -- and yourselves -- a favor. As long as you tolerate her freeloading, it will continue.
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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