DEAR ABBY: I am concerned about my nephew. His whole life he has lovingly hugged and kissed on his mother. It was cute when he was a toddler, but now he's a teenager, and he continues to drape himself on her and hug and kiss her on the cheek -- at home and in public. She does not discourage it. I don't know if my brother-in-law has noticed it, or if he just chooses not to see.
I have mentioned this to my sister before, but she told me I'm too critical. We were in line at the store and I heard people behind us react with audible sighs when they saw the behavior. I am uncomfortable around them. Others have told me that the affection seems excessive.
How can I help? I'm afraid there's a problem brewing that needs to be addressed now. -- ALARMED IN APPLE VALLEY
DEAR ALARMED: From my perspective your nephew appears to be a sweet, affectionate young man who is close to his mother. There is an old French saying that translates, "Evil be he who thinks evil of it." In other words, you may be mistaking the dirt on your glasses for a relationship that is "off-color," so please reserve judgment.
DEAR ABBY: I lost my wife of 10 years after a long battle with cancer. I am 50 and have a 10-year-old son. If it wasn't for raising my son, I don't think I'd even want to live anymore, but the good Lord gave me this job, and I want to make sure I do it well.
It is very lonely at times without a woman around. When I do get out and meet women 40 to 50 years old and they hear I have a spoiled kid at home, they turn away. I know at my age I should be a grandpa. Is there any chance for me to find another lasting love to spend the rest of my life with? I never thought I would ever lose my wife; I thought we'd be together forever. -- BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND
DEAR BETWEEN: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your wife. Of course there's a chance for you to find love again. Right now you're feeling down because life has dealt you a difficult hand.
Plenty of women would find you attractive, and not be turned off by the fact that you are raising a son. I'm talking about single women with children of their own to raise. You can meet them at your nearest chapter of Parents Without Partners. To find one, call (800) 637-7974 or visit www.parentswithoutpartners.org.
DEAR ABBY: As a child care provider for a local program in my hometown, I am often treated differently because I am a male.
If women can do anything men can -- including the same job -- shouldn't the opposite be true? Do you think society will ever completely accept male teachers and child care workers? -- PAUL FROM PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR PAUL: I hope so, because men are certainly capable of nurturing -- particularly those of the recent generation, who are far more involved in co-parenting than men were before the 1960s.
Male teachers and child care workers can give fatherless children something that female teachers cannot -- a male role model with whom they can identify.
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.)