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by Abigail Van Buren

Son Rebuffs Aunt's Attempts to Contact Long Gone Dad

DEAR ABBY: After my divorce 12 years ago, my ex-husband left the state and had no contact with our son, "Lance," or me. We didn't even know where he had gone. Lance was 5 at the time and is now 17.

When Lance was 6, I married a great guy who is wonderful to both of us.

Several years ago, my ex got in touch with my sister and sent her a letter and a picture of him and his new family to give to our son. When my sister gave it to Lance, he told her he wanted nothing to do with his "old dad" (his words) and told her to let things be the way they have been.

My sister continues to harass Lance to write or call his father, and has out-and-out screamed at my son for choosing his stepfather over his birth father. She has even tried to set up secret meetings, but Lance knows better than to trust her and wants nothing to do with her. Time and again he has said he wants nothing to do with his biological father. I feel my son is old enough to make his own decisions.

Because of this, we attend no family events and have cut ourselves out of everyone's life. And we have never said anything to anyone about what my sister is doing.

Lance turns 18 this year and already has plans in motion to legally change his name to his stepfather's and to be adopted by him. He uses his stepfather's name now, except for legal documents. (Another thing that annoys my sister.)

How can we continue to deal with my sister until he turns 18, and what should we say if someone brings up the fact that we never come around? -- TRULY A FAMILY IN MINNESOTA

DEAR TRULY: There is nothing you can do to stop your sister from meddling. She is convinced she knows what is best for her nephew and obviously has a long alliance with your ex-husband. Your son has done an admirable job of handling her on his own.

I'm mystified that you would protect your sister by telling no one about her trouble-making and cut yourself off from the rest of the family. It was a mistake you should correct. If someone brings up the fact that you have been absent, speak up and explain why. If you do, I'm sure you'll find you have allies.

DEAR ABBY: I recently saw the letter in your column from Jack Anspach, who dreamed that the next president would have six letters in his first name and four letters in his last name. He bemoaned the fact that he had failed to place a bet.

Apparently, it escaped his attention -- and yours -- that the names of BOTH major-party candidates have six and four letters. I would have expected you or one of your staff to have caught such an obvious error before going to print.

By now, he's probably got your column matted and framed and proudly on display in his office. Imagine his surprise when he finally discovers that Al is short for Albert. -- JODY IN MEMPHIS

DEAR JODY: Jack got it! I got it! And I'm pleased that so many of my readers also got the JOKE. A little amusement in serious times can be a ray of sunshine on a dreary day, and I think we all needed a dose of humor around that time.

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