DEAR ABBY: Late last winter, a sheriff called to tell me that my daughter "Amy" had been found standing, bruised and battered, on a street corner in upstate New York. Her arm had been broken. He was convinced that the man she was living with had beaten her and kicked her outside to freeze. Her sister (my other daughter) paid to put her up in a hotel for the night.
My husband and I were convinced early on in this relationship that this monster was determined to have us support him financially, because he would leave us long, threatening messages demanding money, or else our daughter would be "homeless."
Amy moved back in with him, and I heard from her sister that the creep was bringing other women home for sex. It raised my hopes that Amy would give up on him. Instead, she became pregnant.
Now Amy is hurt that I don't call her and share in this exciting event. When I try to explain how I feel, she tells me, "It's not about you, Mom." She's right. It's about the baby. I am ashamed to not be able to change this baby's future. What can I do? -- PARALYZED WITH FEAR OUT WEST
DEAR PARALYZED: Make every effort to prevent your daughter and grandchild from becoming isolated from your family. Some abusers deliberately impregnate their victims in order to keep them dependent. Keep the contact and the conversation going, so that when Amy finally realizes that her boyfriend is a danger not only to her but also to her baby, she can come to you for help.
DEAR ABBY: We have two children, ages 9 and 6, and live in Northern California. We'll be traveling to Southern California soon to attend my cousin's wedding. We'll be staying with my parents.
My three unmarried adult siblings will be coming from out-of-state to attend the wedding. My brother "Ray" is a clear favorite with my kids. He visits often and showers them with attention, gifts and outings. He loves them dearly, but when he's around he consumes all of their attention.
I feel bad for my parents and other siblings -- especially my sister, who doesn't get to see them often and feels she can't compete with the gifts and rough-house game-playing. Do you have any suggestions for how I might temper the kids' enthusiasm for Uncle Ray on this trip, so others get to have meaningful bonding time with their nephew and niece, whom they rarely see? -- MARILYN IN SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR MARILYN: Enlist Ray's help with this and start talking with your children now about the special relationships you had with your parents and your siblings while growing up. Share funny stories, which will make them more "real" to the kids. Talk about the qualities that make each of your family members special, and be sure to mention how much your parents and all your siblings care about them. Then arrange in advance one or more activities they can enjoy together that do not include Ray. That would be some steps in the right direction.
DEAR ABBY: What would you say is the difference between a friendship and an emotional affair? -- UNHAPPY WIFE IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR UNHAPPY WIFE: A friendship is a relationship in which the spouse feels included. An emotional affair is one during which the spouse writes to Dear Abby and signs her question "Unhappy."
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