DEAR ABBY: I am a 28-year-old mother of three. I have been married to their father, "Carl," for eight years.
Every two years, Carl decides he no longer wants to be a family man and packs up and leaves. When he goes, he leaves me destitute. I am a stay-at-home mom with only a high school degree.
Carl feels he should have to give us money only after his own needs and wants have been taken care of, and then only the amount he chooses. The most he will dole out is $50 to $100 at a time.
This time when he left, I warned him I'd file for child support. We were on speaking terms, and he said he loved me and wanted us to reunite. That was until he was served with the support papers. Now he refuses to return my calls until I drop the suit. I love Carl, but I can't let him withhold support from our children. He has a good job, so there is no reason for this.
Am I unreasonable? Should I drop the suit? I want our family back together, but I'm afraid he'll leave again. What should I do? -- NEEDS SUPPORT IN TEXAS
DEAR NEEDS SUPPORT: For the sake of your children, do not allow yourself to be manipulated or emotionally blackmailed. Take your cues from your lawyer. Once a fair amount of child support has been established in a court of law or by mediation, offer Carl the option of marriage counseling. If he's sincere about wanting to reconcile, he will agree.
If he returns, I urge you to use that opportunity to go back to school and prepare yourself to be financially independent. I have said this many times before: No one's future is guaranteed. If something should happen to your husband, you may need to be the breadwinner. So be prepared.
DEAR ABBY: Several months ago I lost my mother to cancer. I am still trying to comfort myself. My four children were close to their grandmother, especially my 6-year-old daughter, "Vicki."
Vicki comes to me crying and says she misses Grandma. When she does, I comfort her as best I can, but it's hard because I haven't let go and allowed myself to have a really good cry.
Is it OK for Vicki to see me cry? I'm afraid I won't be able to stop once I start. And if that happens, how can I comfort my daughter?
Every week, I take fresh flowers to the cemetery. Vicki always wants to go with me, but I've taken her only twice. Do you think it might help her to go with me? I'm worried that taking her to the cemetery will only reopen the wound of losing her grandma. -- WANTING TO GRIEVE
DEAR WANTING: You have my sympathy for the loss of your dear mother. I am concerned that you do not have an outlet for your grief. Please consult your doctor or clergyperson about locating a grief support group to help you through this difficult time.
I see nothing wrong with allowing your daughter to occasionally accompany you to the cemetery. It will teach her that although her grandmother is gone, she is not forgotten. I also see nothing wrong with her seeing you cry. However, if you think you might lose control and be unable to stop, don't do it, because it would frighten her.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600