DEAR ABBY: The other day my kids asked me why I'm always so angry. I didn't know how to respond. I'm angry that they think their dad is "wonderful" because he plays with them all day (he's not working), takes them to get fast food (instead of cooking something healthy), and because he's their coach (he is having an emotional affair with one of the parents).
I assign chores to the kids because things never get done when I ask my husband to do them. If I remind them "It's trash day" or "Don't forget to vacuum the living room," my husband steps in and says, "I'll do it for you, Billy/Jane," which makes me the bad guy. I know if I ask for a divorce, the kids will want to live with him.
How do I explain this to them? And what do I tell my friends when they ask what a pretty, fit, successful woman like me is doing with an overweight, unemployed, lazy man like him? He's more personable than I am, but the stress of being the sole breadwinner has taken its toll on me. -- NEEDING ANSWERS, LEVITTOWN, PA.
DEAR NEEDING ANSWERS: You're overwhelmed right now, and with the load you're carrying, it's no wonder. You, your husband and the children are overdue for a frank sit-down chat.
It would not be out of line to tell them that the reason you appear to be angry is you are doing it all -- carrying the load financially and being the responsible parent. It would also not be out of line to let them know that every member of the family is expected to do their part, which is why you have assigned them chores -- because Dad is too busy coaching to remember to do it.
As to the fast-food diet, your husband is doing the children -- and himself -- no favors, and he is setting a terrible example.
Now, about your friends: Be honest. Tell them that you married your husband because you loved him at the time, and you are sticking with it because if you dump him, you may wind up supporting him anyway.
DEAR ABBY: I am 14 and have just started high school. I have been told I'm beautiful. Most times I feel that way, except for one thing -- I hate my nose! I don't want to sound ungrateful for my looks. I know I'm not the only girl who has a flaw and wants to change it. I just want your opinion.
From the front you can't tell my nose is messed up. But viewed from the side, there's a bump in the middle. It's also sort of crooked and just too big. I'm starting to be self-conscious about it. I don't like people looking at me from the side, but it's hard to prevent.
I have been researching plastic surgery online. At my age, my parents won't let me get a nose job, but I don't want to wait until I'm 18. Some kids have commented about my nose, but mainly I want to do this for me. It would make me feel better about myself. What am I supposed to do? -- SELF-CONSCIOUS IN MINNESOTA
DEAR SELF-CONSCIOUS: For now, stop looking at yourself in a magnifying mirror and obsessing about your "flaws." You may -- or may not -- want to consider plastic surgery in a few years. I say in a few years because at 14 your features are not yet fully developed. A nose that seems "too big" now may be exactly the right size in a couple of years. If you are still displeased about the bump, there is time to have it smoothed out.
But for now you should wait and develop your personality and your intellect so that people notice you for more than your looks. I'm sure you have many qualities that make you special -- and remember, what makes us unique is sometimes what we mistake as our "flaws."
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)