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by Abigail Van Buren

Girlfriend's Young Kids Are Challenge for Veteran Dad

DEAR ABBY: I'm 41 with two adult kids and my youngest, who is almost 15. For the last eight months I have been dating a woman with two kids -- one is nearly 10 and the other is 4. We have a lot in common. We get along great, and I really like her.

The downside is, I'm having a hard time accepting starting over and raising kids that young. I have been living alone with no kids full time for 11 years. She has a flexible schedule, and her kids spend 50 percent of the time with their dad. I know one day we will have to move in together, and I'm not sure I'm comfortable with it. -- DREADING IT IN ILLINOIS

DEAR DREADING IT: I'm a strong believer in communication. If you are having second thoughts, share them with your lady friend so you can decide together what your next step should be and if there will be a move in your future. And when you do, please remember that her first responsibility is to her children and not to you.

Read more in: Love & Dating | Family & Parenting

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary. Our trip will be a visit to his old Army buddy, an eight-hour drive away in Maine. I have met his friends three times in my life. He is comfortable with them. I can talk about only so much with them, then nothing more.

My husband says this is a fair trip because I always choose the destinations of most of our vacations. It will be a six-day trip, and we must take our chocolate lab with us. What do you think of this? -- PERTURBED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR PERTURBED: I think it seems less like an anniversary celebration than it does an Army reunion. However, if what your husband said is true -- that you have chosen the destinations for most of your vacations -- be a good sport and go along with it. Of course, it would be with the stipulation that the next destination is one of your choosing and will be the anniversary celebration you didn't have this time around.

Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations | Marriage & Divorce | Friends & Neighbors

DEAR ABBY: Is it OK for senior citizens to order off of the kids' menu? Friends of ours have recently begun to do this even though the menus state "6 and under, please." They are not poor and live a comfortable lifestyle. The waiter usually just looks the other way and allows them to do it. I find it embarrassing. I feel they are cheating the business and the server. -- BY THE BOOK IN OHIO

DEAR BY THE BOOK: As people grow older, they burn fewer calories than younger, more active folks do. Their appetites sometimes shrink to accommodate it. Many senior couples compensate for it by splitting a meal so they won't waste food.

Not knowing your friends, I can't guess why they order off the children's menu. However, as long as the server doesn't mind and receives a generous enough tip to compensate, I don't think anyone is being cheated. Management wouldn't allow it if it hurt the business.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Money

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