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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom's Paranoia Damages Her Daughter's Self Esteem

DEAR ABBY: Ten years ago I was suddenly widowed after many years of marriage. Because I was totally "available," I became very involved with my children and grandchildren. I did not date.

About a year ago, that changed. I met "Gerald," a man who makes me very happy. We enjoy dinners together, dancing and travel. We spend three nights a week together -- usually at my place.

My brothers and friends are happy for me, but my daughters have not accepted him. They are civil in his presence, but in private they put him down. Their objections are: Gerald is more reserved than their father was, he takes up a lot of my time, that I'm "acting like a schoolgirl," and the sleepovers set a bad example for the grandkids. (They are not present when this occurs.)

I have told my daughters repeatedly how happy I am and how hurtful I find their comments. I refuse to listen to their negative comments, but they always come up. I don't want to alienate them and possibly have my time with my grandkids limited, but Gerald is going to be in my life for a while.

Any advice? -- GERALD'S "GIRL"

DEAR GERALD'S "GIRL": As an adult you have the right to live your life as you choose. Because you have already told your daughters their comments are hurtful, it's time to stand your ground more strongly.

Your grandchildren will not be shocked that Gerald is spending nights with you if their parents do not discuss it with them or in front of them. They'll be off doing their own thing as teenagers and, much as they love you, you will not be the focus of their attention.

If your daughters threaten to punish you by limiting your time with the grandkids, let it be their problem. But do not give in to the treatment they are giving you because it is unfair and uncalled-for.