DEAR ABBY: I am a woman in my late 40s. My father and siblings all live in the same town. We have always been close and spend holidays, birthdays, etc. together, even as our families have grown.
Last year my brother's daughter married a horrible man I'll call "Willard." Willard is rude, vulgar and makes constant sexual innuendos. The rest of the family have decided to have nothing to do with my brother's family because of it. We're afraid to invite them to gatherings and holidays for fear that Willard will come with the rest.
We have talked about it with my brother and his wife. They feel that because Willard has become part of their family, he should be accepted whether we like him or not. Another problem: My brother thinks Willard is "wonderful" and says nothing when he's out of line. Is it time for us to also cut them off, or do you have any other ideas? -- TORN IN TUCSON
DEAR TORN: It is not your brother's job to muzzle his son-in-law when the man becomes offensive. Invite the family to one more gathering, and when Willard steps out of line, the person he offends should speak up. If Willard does not stop, do not invite him again.
By the way, when "children" are grown they should receive invitations of their own and not expect to "tag along" with their parents. Your brother should not be ostracized because of his son-in-law's bad behavior. However, if he chooses to estrange himself in order to "punish" you for drawing the line, the choice will be his.
DEAR ABBY: My fiance, "Blake," called off our engagement recently. He has a 4-year-old son, "Danny," with whom I grew very close during our 3 1/2-year relationship. Danny lives with his grandmother, and she and I also have a close relationship. Danny's mother has never been in the picture, and Blake and I would see the boy every weekend.
The grandmother called me recently and asked if I would still like to see Danny. I want to do what's best for the child. I do not wish to use him as a way to stay in my ex-fiance's life. I grew very attached to Danny and, near the end of my relationship with Blake, he had begun to call me "Mommy." I had hoped that one day we would be a family and he wouldn't have to endure another mother figure leaving him.
Would it be best for Danny to continue to see me, or should I leave him alone? -- ALMOST MOM IN SARASOTA
DEAR ALMOST MOM: Because you have been close to Danny for more than three-fourths of his short life, I see no reason why you shouldn't see him. However, you should no longer allow him to call you "Mommy." Tell him that you love him, but he should call you "Aunty" because you will not be living with him. That way you can still have a warm relationship with the boy, even if his father marries someone else who would assume the mommy role.
DEAR ABBY: Does a house "burn up" or "burn down"? -- HOT TOPIC IN ASHEBORO, N.C.
DEAR "HOT": It does both, depending upon where the fire starts. According to the Beverly Hills Fire Department, if a fire starts in the attic, it burns down -- and if it starts on the first floor, it burns up.
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