Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Son Yearns to Find a Way to Connect With Critical Dad

DEAR ABBY: My son and his girlfriend of 13 years, "Liza," broke up, and my son has moved out of the house they bought together. They still have a lot to settle, but so far, they remain on reasonably good terms.

The news of their split has left my wife and me feeling bad. We developed a bond with Liza over the years and we are unsure how to proceed from here. We feel she has become a part of our family, especially since she has no real family of her own.

We would like to express our sorrow for their breakup, wish her the best in the future and, perhaps, maintain friendly contact. We do not want to upset our son by doing this.

Please advise me on how we should proceed. What is the proper approach for parents and other family members in this situation? -- CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE IN OTTAWA

DEAR CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE: You're asking the wrong person. The person you should discuss this with is your son. While it is understandable that you feel Liza is a member of the family, the truth is she isn't in the literal sense. The extent to which you keep her in your lives may depend upon the circumstances of the breakup. While the extended family may wish to maintain relationships with her on an individual basis, whether your son would be comfortable having her present during family holidays is yet to be determined.