DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend has proposed. I love him very much, but I'm worried about my kids. I look at his children -- his son is 23 and barely made it out of high school. He got a girl pregnant at 17, has been in jail a few times and is an alcoholic. His 15-year-old daughter is immature for her age and constantly getting into trouble at school. Their mother is an alcoholic and a drug user. Are my concerns for my children valid? -- WORRIED IN WEST VIRGINIA
DEAR WORRIED: Yes, they are, because your children will be exposed to all of the negative influences that his children will bring with them into your blended family. Be smart and hold off marrying your boyfriend until your children are old enough not to be influenced by his children. Your first concern must be for your children's well-being.
DEAR ABBY: I read your answer to "Thrilled in San Jose" (Dec. 28), the couple who want to celebrate paying off their mortgage, on the same day I read an article about how middle-class Americans have sabotaged themselves by abandoning thrifty habits like saving and ... paying off their mortgages!
I disagree with your answer that the couple should celebrate privately. A generation of Americans now has no idea that paying off a mortgage is even possible. So I say to that couple: Celebrate tastefully and publicly in the same thrifty way that enabled you to pay off that mortgage. And while you're at it, be prepared to share the tips and habits that enabled you to achieve this wonderful success. Who knows? Your party might educate and inspire. -- I'D LIKE AN INVITATION
DEAR I'D LIKE: I was surprised at the number of readers who were fired up over my answer to "Thrilled" about burning the mortgage. Most said that this is a milestone that should be celebrated. My readers comment:
DEAR ABBY: I think it's great to throw a mortgage-burning party to celebrate paying off a home mortgage. Today we go overboard not to offend. True friends would be happy when something good happens and not jealous. How self-centered is that attitude? People need to start feeling happy for the success of others. -- LORI IN GIG HARBOR, WASH.
DEAR ABBY: I believe "Thrilled" and her husband should have their mortgage-burning party. Achievements like this should be celebrated. Too often in our country people have piled on debt they couldn't afford and made decisions purely to keep up with "the Joneses." By sharing their success story, including any struggles they may have overcome, they can be an inspiration for the loved ones in their lives to follow. -- DEBBIE IN THE SOUTHWEST
DEAR ABBY: Please advise "Thrilled" not to actually burn the mortgage. In California the lender has to provide a release document in the form of a Deed of Reconveyance or Satisfaction of Mortgage that must be recorded with the county recorder's office in order to remove the lien of the loan from the chain of title for the house. If the lender doesn't record it, then the borrower must do so -- copies don't count; originals do. If "Thrilled" decided to sell the house and the release has not been recorded, or if she doesn't have the original, it could delay the sale by months. -- LINDA IN SAN FRANCISCO
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