DEAR ABBY: I need your advice. I am 41 years old and was adopted at birth. I was raised by an unloving woman who was emotionally, verbally and physically abusive. I persevered, worked hard, and now have a loving husband and a beautiful son. We live a comfortable and peaceful life.
My adoptive mother, on the other hand, expects me to hand her financial support every month and pay for her extravagant lifestyle. She did not save for herself, as I was her "investment." She doesn't ask, Abby; she demands. She believes that if not for her "taking me away from the slums as a child," I wouldn't be where I am in life now.
The financial burden she has guilted me into is putting a strain on my marriage and our plans to save for a stable future. I am depressed beyond words. It doesn't help that I still carry resentment for having been severely mistreated as a child.
Her words are vile whenever she doesn't get "her" money, and she couldn't care less about me or my son. I have no love for her. But I do feel for her in her old age. Please help. What should I do? -- STRAINED RELATIONSHIP IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR STRAINED RELATIONSHIP: Here's what to do. Realize that when good parents adopt a baby, they do it not because of what that baby will do for them, but for what they can give to that child. Then tell your abuser the gravy train has stopped, she won't be getting another penny and cut off all communication.
You do not "owe" her anything, so do not allow yourself to be bullied or guilted into being her ATM machine. If you feel the urge to waver, take my advice and spend the money on a licensed psychotherapist who will help you understand that your adoptive mother does not have the ethical or moral right to anything more from you than you have already given.
DEAR ABBY: I have a 6-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son who have no modesty at all. I don't make a big deal about private parts. They sometimes bathe together and will jump in the shower with me or my husband. Because of this, they'll get into our pool or hot tub naked if there isn't a swimsuit around. Our backyard is completely private. No one can see in, so I have no problem with it.
However, when my in-laws are in town, they are appalled and turn it into a big deal. Then my husband freaks out, scolds the kids and makes them put their clothes on.
First of all, they are our children and we are raising them. Second, if my husband didn't want them swimming or running around the house naked, then the kids should have been told before their grandparents arrived. I would understand that if the kids were older, it might be inappropriate, but they are still so young.
Am I too laid-back, or are my in-laws too uptight and we should just let the kids be kids and have fun? -- UNASHAMED IN FLORIDA
DEAR UNASHAMED: You are not too laid-back, and your in-laws may not be too uptight. The difference in your attitudes regarding nudity may be a result of the generation gap. I do think it's hypocritical of your husband to reprimand the children for doing something that's usually acceptable, because it sends a confusing message. He should explain to the kids that when "company" comes, they will need to cover up so they don't make the guests uncomfortable.
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.)