DEAR ABBY: My ex-husband raised my son as his own from the time he was an infant. Now my son's biological father is saying he wants our son to stay away from my ex-husband. However, my ex-husband and my son have a very strong bond. I believe the bond is even stronger than what he has with his biological father.
They are both good dads, but my ex-husband devotes more one-on-one time to my son than his biological father. I am confused. Must I distance him from my ex since we are no longer married? My son is now 6. -- AT ODDS IN IOWA
DEAR AT ODDS: The boy's father may sense that his son isn't as bonded to him as he is to his former stepdad, which is why he is saying this. I have always believed that more love and positive reinforcement is better than less. By that, I mean I see no reason why you cannot expose your child to anyone you wish, including your former husband. Because you are confused about what your rights are as a mother, discuss this with an attorney.
DEAR ABBY: We have some new neighbors, and recently the wife has developed the habit of "dropping by." It is becoming apparent that she'd like to develop a social relationship -- lunches, etc. -- but this is not something I want to encourage.
My husband and I are extremely private people. What socializing we do is with family. We are willing to be good neighbors but are not interested in further involvement. In fact, we are beginning to view her visits as intrusive.
I am unsure how to approach this without offending her and appearing to be rude. Abby, you have a way of phrasing things in a positive manner, and I'd appreciate your insight as to how I can let her know her visits are not welcomed and we prefer not to establish anything beyond a cordial neighbor relationship. -- PRIVATE IN THE SOUTHEAST
DEAR PRIVATE: Phrase it this way: "We realize you are new in town and are reaching out, but my husband and I are very private people and we socialize only with family." Then suggest some options available in your community that will provide her an opportunity to get involved and meet new people.
DEAR ABBY: I have a suggestion for "Still Grieving in Montana" (Jan. 5), who found out only after the death of her brother that he was homeless. She was grieving with the thought that she had been unable to help him.
I would suggest from now on she make it a point to help other homeless men. A way to do that would be by visiting a local homeless center and doing whatever she can to lend a hand. Rather than spend more money on therapists, assisting people who need it may not only make her feel better, but also benefit the community in an important and meaningful way. -- EAST WINDSOR, N.J., READER
DEAR READER: Channeling grief into an activity can be therapeutic and can lessen depression. Thank you for writing. I'm glad you suggested it.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)