DEAR ABBY: When I was in my first year of college, my mother divorced my stepdad. "Charlie" was part of my life for 12 years, but since their divorce, she insists I have no contact with him. Charlie visits the state where I now live several times a year to see a friend and invites me to have dinner with him. I do, but because of Mom's demand, I ask him to keep our time together a secret. If she knew we were in contact, I think she would cut me out of her life.
Growing up, Charlie was a father figure to me -- a very important person in my life. Spending time with him is awkward, but it would feel wrong to never see him again. We were family for many years. I feel that as an adult, I should be able to decide for myself who I stay in contact with. I don't know the whole story about their breakup, and honestly, I don't care to know. Should I honor my mother's wishes and have no more contact with him, or go with my gut and keep him in my life? -- FORGIVE OR FORGET OUT WEST
DEAR FORGIVE: Go with your gut. As an adult, you do have the right to choose with whom you associate, and your mother should not be insisting upon it with no explanation.
DEAR ABBY: I have an etiquette question I can't find an answer to on the internet. My family travels a great deal, and there are always unattended wheelchairs parked around the airport. My teenage brother thinks it's perfectly fine to get in them and start playing with them, because "no one's using them." The rest of my family thinks it's rude to use a wheelchair as a toy. How do you view this and how should my parents explain it to him? Thanks. -- CLAIRE IN FLORIDA
DEAR CLAIRE: Assistive devices are not toys, and they should not be "played with" by those who don't need to use them. That's how I view it. Have your parents actually told your brother "No"? If they have and he does it anyway, it's time for them to act like parents, make clear that there are consequences for disobedience and follow through.
DEAR ABBY: My son recently graduated with a master's degree. He's a fine young man, did extremely well all through his schooling and has never given his father or me a second of worry. He has not been able to find a job. It's frustrating for him and discouraging, but we know he will, and we encourage him any way we can.
My question is how do I deal with the barrage of inquiries from neighbors, hairstylist, co-workers and friends who constantly ask if he has found a job yet? I am sick of it! It's none of their business, and I never ask them anything about their families' employment. Please help. -- MISSOURI MOM
DEAR MOM: Handle it this way. Say, "When he does, I'll let you know." Then change the subject.
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