DEAR ABBY: My mother and stepfather are divorcing after 30 years together. Mama has moved in with my husband, children and me. My stepfather is alone in their house and struggling to pay the bills.
The problem is Mama wants to confide in me and tell me all her troubles with "Donald." I told her I don't want to hear any of it because I don't want to end up hating him. Donald is my children's grandfather and the only father I have ever known. (There was no abuse involved in their marriage.)
Mother said I am her "best friend," and I should "be there" for her. Then she burst into tears and left. Was I wrong? I told her I support her in every way, but I don't think I should be the one she talks to about her failed marriage. I don't discuss their relationship with my stepdad either. Please tell me how to handle this. -- CAN'T LISTEN IN DELRAY BEACH, FLA.
DEAR CAN'T LISTEN: Please forgive the understatement, but the process of divorce is an extremely emotional one. Your mother may be trying to justify why she walked out and force you to take sides.
Encourage her to express her hurt and disappointment to her spiritual adviser. He or she is more qualified to guide your mom because there is no emotional involvement.
P.S. You are not only a caring daughter, but also a very intelligent one. Hang in there.
DEAR ABBY: Our older daughter is almost 40. It has taken me decades to finally face the fact that she is self-centered, deceitful, manipulative, promiscuous, and enjoys the chaos and drama her bad choices cause. It has wrecked her life and is ruining her children's lives as well. Her lifestyle is radically different from ours and that of our younger daughter.
We have distanced ourselves. It's not that we don't love her -- we just cannot accept the way she chooses to live her life. Her teenage children have begun to mirror her bad behavior. I feel guilty about it, but the drama is more than I can stand. Are we terrible parents? -- DESPAIRING MOM IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR DESPAIRING MOM: No, you're not "terrible." In a case like this, backing off is a rational, self-protective reaction to the reality that your daughter is an adult and responsible for her own choices.
DEAR ABBY: I am a divorced woman with one child, and I'm in a relationship with a younger man. He has his own home, and I have mine. He stays at my house three nights a week and every other weekend, when my child is not with me. He eats and grooms himself in my home and swims in the community pool.
He never offers to pay for anything, like food, movie tickets, etc. If we go out, he expects me to pay my own way.
In today's world is there any responsibility on a man in a relationship to pay for anything other than himself? Are the days of men taking women out and paying for the date gone? Shouldn't he offer to bring groceries during the times he spends at my home? What should a lady expect from a man in a dating relationship? -- GAL IN VIRGINIA
DEAR GAL: More than you're getting. When someone is in a romantic relationship, there is usually some "courting" behavior involved. (Even birds of prey will bring their prospective mate a dead rat occasionally.) When two people care about each other, there is usually some give and take. But in your case you appear to be doing all the giving.
TO MY MUSLIM READERS: To all of you, a happy Eid al-Fitr!
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