DEAR ABBY: I am a 29-year-old woman, married with two sons, 7 and 8. My husband of nine years and I try to set a good example and teach them the difference between right and wrong.
My mother is dating a man who has been married for many years. Mom and this married man have been "dating" for about four years. He says he's miserable and still married only because a divorce would lose him half his assets. I know there will come a day when our boys find out that "Grandpa" is married to someone else.
My husband and I have taught our children that marriage is a faithful and truthful act that only two people who love each other very much should engage in. We have also taught them that marriage is forever -- until death do us part. How do I answer the questions I know are going to follow?
Please don't tell me to let Grandma tell them the story. Her take on the situation may warp our kids' sense of marriage. I refuse to lie to my sons, but I don't want them to look at Grandma as a horrible person, either. Any suggestions? -- DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY
DEAR DON'T KNOW: First of all, your sons should not be calling your mother's boyfriend "Grandpa," because he isn't their grandfather. And Grandma isn't a "horrible" person; she is someone who has allowed herself to become the "side dish" of a man who values his money more than he values her.
If asked, tell your sons that you do not approve, but that Grandma is a big girl -- and this is the decision she has made.
DEAR ABBY: I was in an abusive relationship for about a year before I was finally arrested last summer for domestic violence. Since then I have enrolled in anger management class and have seen a psychologist. I have learned a lot since then and feel overwhelming remorse for what I have done.
I want to apologize to her, but there is a restraining order in effect. I feel so guilty. Any suggestions? -- DISTRAUGHT IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR DISTRAUGHT: In your case, guilt is good. It means you have a conscience. Do not, under any circumstances, try to contact your former girlfriend until you have successfully completed the anger management course and the therapy. Because there is a restraining order in place, any move you make in her direction will be construed as hostile and could land you in jail.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Shawn," and I have been having sex for three years. We are both seniors in college. My family is against sex before marriage, and I have told them that I am against it, too. I promised them that I wasn't having sex with Shawn.
Last week, my little sister, who is a freshman in high school, found my birth control pills in my car. She told my parents, and they asked me about it. I lied and told them they belonged to one of my friends.
Should I tell my parents the truth and just accept that we have different opinions, or continue to lie to them? -- CONFOUNDED IN SANTA BARBARA
DEAR CONFOUNDED: As a senior in college, I presume you are an adult. As an adult, you should be prepared to take responsibility for the decisions you make. Your parents are not stupid. Lying about your behavior is childish and, frankly, it is degrading to you and your relationship with Shawn. Therefore, you should tell your parents the truth, and apologize to them for lying.
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