DEAR ABBY: I was married at 17 and ran away at 37 when I finally admitted to myself that my husband did not love me. After that, I went through a deep depression that took years to recover from. I have been divorced for 13 years and am happy being unencumbered. I choose to live alone.
I enjoy companionship and am seeing not one, but two, men. They both want a commitment, and I do not. One knows about the other; the other doesn't. They know I have had relationships in the past.
I have already had family, kids and grandkids. I see no reason to marry again or have a serious commitment to anyone. What is your advice? -- CONTENT IN IOWA
DEAR CONTENT: My advice is to let the gentleman who doesn't know you are seeing someone else in on the secret. Other than that, because you are happy with the status quo, I have no other advice to offer.
DEAR ABBY: Before my mother died a year ago, she told me a secret. She said my middle-aged brother "Donnie" was conceived with a sperm donation rather than my father (also deceased), whose sperm count was low. My brother doesn't know this, and Mom didn't tell him before she died.
Donnie has had numerous emotional problems and has unresolved issues with our parents. Do you think it's important that he know of his "origin," or is this a secret I should take with me to the grave? I don't want to hurt him with this information, only to help him resolve some of his negative feelings toward our parents. I hate keeping family secrets, but I will remain silent if telling him would do more harm than good. -- HALF-SISTER IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR HALF-SISTER: Your half-brother should be told the truth. It may be difficult for him to hear, but on the other hand, it could explain some of the unspoken family dynamics that may have led to his unresolved issues with your parents. It might also help him understand why he felt "different," or may have felt he was treated differently than you were.
DEAR ABBY: I have a grandchild whose parents are strict, which I don't mind, but when Mom loses her cool, she starts name-calling. She'll say things like, "You're a brat!" etc. in front of whomever, wherever we happen to be. It goes against my grain to call anyone names.
Should I talk to the parents about this or stay out of their business? I don't interfere with the way any of my children raise their kids, but I'm very concerned over this. What do I do or say? Should I speak up, or hold my peace? I hurt for the grandkids when this happens. It isn't good for their self-esteem. -- UNSURE IN RED WING, MINN.
DEAR UNSURE: I know very few perfect parents, but if your family member does this on a regular basis, you should say something. The problem with labeling a child is that if an adult does it often enough, the child can grow up thinking the label is accurate. A better way to handle the situation would be for Mom to say firmly: "Stop that! When you do that it makes me angry, and if it happens again, you'll: (1) get a time out; (2) we're going outside until you can behave; or (3) I won't bring you here again!"
DEAR READERS: Today we remember the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who in 1968 was martyred in the cause of civil rights. He was an eloquent man who preached that "love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend." His was a voice of reason in a time of insanity, silenced too soon. -- ABBY
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