DEAR ABBY: My son, "Jarod," was in a relationship with "Gayle," who has a small son, "Danny." My husband and I took Danny into our hearts as our grandson. Danny formed a bond with Jarod's other two children and they consider him a brother. Although Jarod's relationship with Gayle didn't last, we continue to maintain close ties with Danny.
Jarod's new girlfriend, "Liz," also has a small son. Liz has asked me to end my relationship with Danny because she considers it a "threat" to her and her son.
I feel Liz is asking too much. How can I just stop loving Danny? Why is she asking me to do this? When I asked Liz if she were to break up with Jarod, would that mean I could never again speak to her son, she said, "Yes"!
I don't think relationships should be disposable, but I can see that refusing Liz's request will cause a rift. She refuses to visit our home as long as we continue to treat Danny as our grandson. I need your advice because my heart is breaking. -- EMOTIONALLY INVESTED IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR EMOTIONALLY INVESTED: What Liz is saying is not a "request," it's blackmail. It appears your son is involved with an insecure and manipulative woman who does not grasp that there is room in your heart for Jarod's children, Danny and her son, too.
I sincerely hope you won't give in, and that you will talk to your son and explain to him that you would like to accept Liz and her son, but if she persists in the stance she's taking, you will miss her. You have described someone who has a lot of growing up to do, and I hope your son recognizes it before he makes a mistake he may regret.
DEAR ABBY: My neighbor's children were walking home from school last month when I saw that they had dropped some papers. When I returned them to the kids, I noticed they were behind on their school lunch bill. The oldest child mentioned, "I hope Mom can pay or we'll have to eat cheese sandwiches." I was beyond angry! Their father is doing his second tour in Afghanistan, and their mother is doing her best to make ends meet.
I took my fury to the school and discovered the kids didn't qualify for free lunches because their parents were just a couple of dollars over the limit. What a disgraceful way to treat the family of a soldier! I had money set aside for Christmas and decided to pay for those children's lunches for the rest of the year. It wasn't cheap -- $2 per lunch for three kids -- but it was worth it.
Abby, please let your readers know that if anyone can afford even a few dollars, to inquire at their local school if there is a soldier's child -- or any child -- who needs a free lunch. Our soldiers shouldn't have to worry about their kids going hungry in school.
P.S. My neighbors do not know about my donation. -- LENDING A HAND IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR LENDING A HAND: You are an angel. One would think that children of active members of the military would get a better break, but if your letter is any indication, it appears that isn't the case.
Readers, if you have a few dollars to spare, consider contacting your local school(s) and asking if they have a program to accommodate children from families whose income may be "just over the line." Privacy rules may prevent the identities of the children from being disclosed, but the money could be put into a fund for this purpose.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)