DEAR ABBY: I am a divorced father of three who has worked hard at staying part of my children's lives, contributing financial and emotional support through college. I have since remarried and have a good relationship with all three, who are now on their own, working and leading normal, healthy and productive lives.
My 24-year-old daughter, "Amanda," has recently become engaged. Despite my giving her a "heads up" about wanting a courtesy call from her fiance, "Larry," at some point, I got nothing. Apparently, she told him it wasn't necessary. So much for who will wear the pants in their family.
Without being a jerk, I mentioned something to Larry -- half in jest -- when they called to give me their good news. Knowing that I may have been slightly offended, I can't believe he didn't call me a few days later with an explanation or an apology. When I later mentioned to Amanda that I was disappointed, she and her sister insisted that the custom is outdated.
Larry is 30; he's no kid. I haven't found one dad yet who didn't get "the call" from a daughter's intended. Do I need to let go of this, or am I justified in speaking further to Larry about it? The wedding is getting closer, and I am ... DISMAYED IN ROSWELL, GA.
DEAR DISMAYED: For everyone's sake, it would be better if you cooled off and stopped the advice gathering. While I agree that the formality of asking for a woman's hand (or whatever) may be outdated, particularly if a daughter is self-supporting and out on her own, it is still a gesture of respect. It would have been nice if she had held your feelings in higher regard, but perhaps she didn't feel her fiance would pass muster.
I don't know how many dads to whom you have confided this story, but for all concerned, it might be less embarrassing if you stopped and accepted the fact that, as much as you might like to protect your daughter, the gesture was unwelcome.
DEAR ABBY: I am a college-educated mother of three wonderful, well-adjusted children. The decision that I would not work was one that my husband and I made with the understanding that we would have to forgo a lot of luxuries because we wouldn't have a second income. It has been worth it, and we have no regrets.
I would never dream of asking a working mother to give me money so I could buy something I can't afford. So why, then, do so many working moms have no compunction about asking me for my time? The requests are endless -- running their child's forgotten homework to school, picking up their kids from activities, doing their share at school functions, letting their dogs out, etc. Please tell me what to say to these nervy women. -- BUSY WITH MY OWN IN TENNESSEE
DEAR BUSY: The working women who ask these favors may not appreciate the fact that being a stay-at-home mother is also a full-time job. If their requests make you feel encroached upon, all you have to say is that you can't do it because you have a "previous commitment." (You do not have to say that the commitment is to your own children.)
However, before you start turning down these other mothers in a wholesale fashion, allow me to remind you that the way to have friends is to be one. And the time to be a friend is when someone needs one. You don't have to be a pushover -- but don't isolate yourself, either.
CONFIDENTIAL TO MY JEWISH READERS: A happy Passover, everyone!
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