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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Caught in Tug of War Between His Wife and Son

DEAR ABBY: I have a 12-year-old son I'll call "Josh." His mother, "Jan," and I are divorced. Jan is verbally and emotionally abusive. I see Josh three days a week. I took him for counseling, but Jan told him counseling is for crazy people, and now he refuses to go. I told the doctor what my ex said, and he said she needs help because she's destroying Josh's self-esteem.

My son wants to move in with my wife, "Sue," and me when he is old enough. For eight years he's had a dog named "Rascal" that he loves. When Josh says he wants to live with me, Jan threatens to get rid of Rascal if Josh isn't there to take care of the dog.

Jan said I can have the dog, but Sue says, "No way!" She hates dogs and will not have one in the house. Abby, Rascal is a small inside dog, so keeping him outside is not an option. I think Sue should accept the dog for my son's sake. I tried to explain that it is for Josh's emotional well-being. She says it's her or the dog. I say the choice is not the dog, but my son's happiness.

I said she doesn't care about my son or she'd accept Rascal, and she went crazy -- yelling four-letter words. She actually threatened the dog and me. I told her I must take Rascal over her because Josh is my first priority. What should I do? -- TORN BETWEEN MY WIFE AND SON

DEAR TORN: How sad. You know what you have to do. Your son must be your first priority.

P.S. Before involving yourself with any more women, please get counseling to find out why you are drawn to self-centered abusers.