DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Keith," and I are eagerly awaiting the birth of our first child. Sadly, Keith's mother is in very poor health. She's not expected to live more than a few months after the birth of her newest grandchild.
For this reason, all of Keith's siblings are planning to visit after the baby arrives so that everyone can pose for one last family photo, complete with our new baby. My problem is with Keith's niece, "Bridget." I know when the time comes to snap the picture, Bridget will insist on including her latest loser boyfriend.
I wouldn't care if it weren't for the fact that Bridget has a history of demanding that her current boyfriends be put in family photos and then insisting that the pictures never see the light of day again after the relationship has ended. She threw a fit at my in-laws' anniversary party when she saw that their picture board contained family pictures with past boyfriends. She was even so bold as to tell everyone in Keith's family to get rid of any family pictures from our wedding because seeing images of her boyfriend at the time "dredged up too many painful memories." (That boyfriend would eventually become her ex-husband, to whom she was married for only one month.)
How do I inform Bridget that her newest boyfriend is not wanted in what will most likely be the only family portrait to include my baby? -- MOTHER-TO-BE IN MICHIGAN
DEAR MOTHER-TO-BE: I see no reason to "inform" Bridget that the family regards her current boyfriend-to-be as yet another loser. It will only cause her to become hurt and defensive, and create resentment that could last for years. Instead, when everyone is lined up for the family picture, make sure that Bridget's boyfriend is posed on the end of the grouping. That way, if the romance tanks he can easily be photo-edited out.
DEAR ABBY: I often order a cup of herbal tea with dinner at restaurants. I use quite a bit of sugar, and end up with four to five empty packets after I've sweetened my tea. What should I do with them? I've tried hiding them under the saucer, but they never seem to fit. -- TEA LOVER IN NEW YORK
DEAR TEA LOVER: Because the "evidence" is making you self-conscious, you could sneak the packets into your purse (or even your brassiere). However, speaking as a fellow sugar addict, my advice is to start cutting back on the sugar, because not only is it addictive, it also makes you crave more and more. And an hour after you've consumed it, you'll feel as fatigued as you felt "energized" immediately afterward.
DEAR ABBY: I was adopted by a stepfather when I was 9. My real father died when I was 5. I am now 25 and want to change my last name back to that of my biological father. My mother divorced my stepfather seven years ago.
Abby, my stepfather abused me badly, so I have had a hard time dealing with this. I have since had counseling, which helped a great deal. I just need to know -- is it worth it to go through the trouble of legally changing my name back, especially if I were to get married in the next five years or so? I just hate that I'm still associated with the man who hurt me years ago. -- CONFUSED IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR CONFUSED: Because the name has painful associations for you, it would not only be "worth it," it would also be cathartic. I say, go for it! Bury the name with all the unhappiness that was associated with it.
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