DEAR ABBY: My 23-year-old son, "Wayne," who is single, has a 3-year-old son. We didn't learn about the child until he was more than a year old, when Wayne was asked to take a paternity test. Luckily, we have been able to form a good relationship with our grandson's mother and see him often. However, our son has shown no interest. He pays child support, but has little interaction.
Wayne is an only child. I love him, but I never wanted another one. I was never comfortable around or interested in young children except for my own son. Could he have gotten this from me?
Friends and family have commented on Wayne's lack of interest in his son, and I'm tired of making excuses or telling people to mind their own business. Wayne says he feels resentment and doesn't want to be around this child. I have tried to explain that he'll regret it in years to come, but he won't listen.
My husband is appalled that our son would act this way, but he seems to forget that I was the one who did everything with Wayne. I did the Boy Scouts, movies, horses, trips, etc. He did almost nothing with Wayne and his friends. At this point, I don't know what to do and would like some advice. -- MOM IN ILLINOIS
DEAR MOM: Your son is displacing his anger at himself onto his son. He should have used birth control and he knows it. It's not fair, but Wayne does not appear to be the most mature of 23-year-olds.
Rather than blame yourself for the fact that he wants no involvement, consider that children usually model themselves after their same-gender parent. Because your husband was so uninvolved with Wayne, it is possible that Wayne has no idea of what a father's role ought to be. A parenting class could fix this -- if your son is willing to take one.
Until then, continue to be the supportive and loving grandparents your grandson needs because, aside from his mother, it appears you're all the backup the little boy has.
DEAR ABBY: I come from a troubled family. I am just now realizing that there is more to life than posting bond for family members and getting people out of jail at 3 a.m. I got my GED and started college this year. Although I try to keep them at bay, they call me with one family crisis or another, and it's putting stress on everyone around me.
I'd love to have a positive relationship with my family, but drama seems to follow them everywhere. Should I just let them go and move on with my life, or continue doing the same as always? Must I drop everything I'm doing to jump and run every time the phone rings? -- FAMILY DRAMA IN TEXAS
DEAR FAMILY DRAMA: Every time you come to the rescue, you further enable your relatives to do whatever it is that has gotten them in hot water. That you have managed to separate yourself to the extent you have, and achieve to the level you have reached, is admirable. But if you're going to continue to accomplish your goals, you cannot allow your family to distract you from your studies. Set limits. Let them know when you can't be disturbed and turn your phone off. They'll survive and you'll thrive.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)