DEAR ABBY: I became an unwed mother many years ago, when there was a stigma attached to having an illegitimate child. Unable to care for my son, I placed him for adoption. He has now found me.
I have a family, and my husband does not want me to tell our adult children or contact the young man and his family.
Do I go against the wishes of my husband, whom I love very much, or should I tell our children and perhaps risk my husband leaving me? -- CONFLICTED IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR CONFLICTED: From the tone of your letter your husband is the dominant partner in your marriage. If that's the case, and you really think he would leave you after all these years because you leveled with your children about the fact that they have a half-brother, then keep the secret.
However, if your relationship with your husband is anything approaching a partnership, then stand up for yourself and make it clear that you are the sum total of all your experiences -- both the joyful and the painful -- and you need to see your son, thank his family for the love and care they have given him, and let your adult children make up their own minds about whether they want to be contacted.
This is the 21st century, and we are far beyond the attitudes of the 1950s in which a human being who is born out of wedlock is a shameful secret forever to be buried. In addition, secrets have a way of always coming out eventually.
DEAR ABBY: My son was required to read "Romeo and Juliet" in his freshman year of high school. It has always bothered me that this play is considered good for teenagers to read, much less required reading. The story ends with Romeo and Juliet committing suicide, which is considered "romantic."
Teen suicide is on the rise. I feel we don't need teens seeing this in literature as a romantic way out of problems. What do you think? -- MICHELLE IN CHUBBUCK, IDAHO
DEAR MICHELLE: The writings of William Shakespeare have long been considered classics of literature, and when students are assigned to read "Romeo and Juliet," it's done under the guidance of a teacher. The characters' suicides have never been considered a reasonable solution to the problem of their warring families not allowing them to be together; the play is regarded as a Shakespearian tragedy.
Suicide among teens does not happen because of blighted romance. It happens because the teenager is mentally disturbed, and friends and families are unable to pick up on cues that the young person is in serious trouble. That is why when someone talks or "jokes" about committing suicide, it's so important to report it so the person can get professional help.
DEAR ABBY: My mother and I got into a "debate" about the bridesmaids for my upcoming wedding. She said that a bridesmaid has to be a single woman.
I have often seen bridesmaids who are married, so I didn't think they "had" to be single. Which of us is right? -- PENNSYLVANIA BRIDE-TO-BE
DEAR BRIDE-TO-BE: You are. Attitudes have changed radically since your mother was married, and so have weddings. Today there are maternity outfits for pregnant bridesmaids -- and brides -- so draw your own conclusions.
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