DEAR ABBY: My 3-year-old son is terminally ill. My sister-in-law, "Anita," has a son who is a year old. Anita always wants to compete for attention between the two boys. She makes nasty comments to family members, suggesting that her son is ignored while mine gets all the attention. No one says anything to her because they're afraid of her "blowups."
I don't know how much longer I can live with this. It is hard enough watching my son slip away a little more each day, but having to deal with this has pushed me over the edge. How can I handle a crazy in-law in this situation? -- FALLING APART IN ILLINOIS
DEAR FALLING APART: Please accept my sympathy for the heartache you are experiencing. It's a shame that no one in the family is willing to point out to your volatile sister-in-law that the "annoyance" she's feeling is selfish and insensitive.
However, because no one is, it might be better that Anita be excluded from family gatherings in which she might feel her son is getting short shrift. And you should ask the person who is repeating her complaints to you to please stop sharing them. That should solve your problem.
DEAR ABBY: I am a married man, but not happily. I have been taking the kids on play dates with a neighbor woman who has been kind enough to meet with the children and doesn't seem to care too much that I'm a guy. As you can imagine, most women will not bother to befriend a man they know is married.
She has two kids who are close in age to mine. She is 19 years younger than I am and lives with her boyfriend.
I have fallen in love with her. I know I can't tell her, and I doubt she feels the same toward me. When we part, we do hug each other. It makes me feel fantastic, something I haven't experienced for a long time.
Should I continue getting together with her or should I avoid her? I feel both happy and sad when I see her because I realize she is basically out of reach. -- PERPLEXED IN WISCONSIN
DEAR PERPLEXED: You feel lonely and isolated. It is understandable that you would be drawn to whatever warmth you can get, but this young woman is not the answer to your problem. Call a halt to this relationship so that you can work on your real problem -- which is your unhappy marriage. Once you sort that out, everything else will fall into place. But continuing to see this woman as things are will only perpetuate your pain.
DEAR ABBY: A few months ago I ran into an old friend at the spa. She told me to call her and plan to get together with her. I have called her, but she never seems receptive to actually getting together. She called me once and invited me over to sit by the pool, but that's been the extent of it.
We're both married with children and work part time. I feel as though I'm bothering her when I call since she never makes an effort to return my calls or accept my invitations. However, when we run into each other at events or the spa, she's chatty and friendly.
Should I stop putting out the effort? -- CAN'T FIGURE IT OUT
DEAR CAN'T: Yes. You've taken the first step, and the second. The ball is now in her court. Stop calling and let her make the next move. If she doesn't, she was probably making polite conversation when she suggested you get together.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)