DEAR ABBY: My niece (age 25), despite numerous warnings against getting pregnant, deliberately did three years ago. This was a result of an affair with a man who is in a live-in relationship with another woman.
My niece ended up in the hospital and had to have some serious surgeries. She lost her job and moved in with my sister and her husband. She's working again, but she and her daughter still live with my sister because she doesn't earn enough to support them (and gets no help from the father). She has recently announced that she's pregnant again by this same man!
My sister says she feels compelled to support my niece because she is concerned about her grandchild(ren). How do the rest of us "opt out," without seeming mean or judgmental? I feel sorry for the strain this is putting on my sister, but she keeps asking family members to help out as she is only working part-time and her husband is on disability. I don't feel it is our responsibility to keep supporting this self-centered, irresponsible adult. Help, please! -- AUNTIE NO MORE
DEAR AUNTIE: Unless you and the rest of the family want to support your niece and all the children she may have, draw the line. Tell your sister that "the family" will chip in one more time, but the money must be used so she and her daughter can consult a lawyer about how to compel the deadbeat dad to assume his responsibilities toward his children. There are also state child support enforcement agencies that can help her.
DEAR ABBY: I started dating my next-door neighbor two years ago. We have known each other for 17 years. We hit it off, and after about a month he was spending every night with me. He's 72 and retired; I'm 55 and work full time. We have a great relationship, but I feel he is stalling about marrying me.
In the beginning, he said if we were together after one year we would talk about selling one or both of our houses and having just one. It hasn't happened. I make his breakfast each morning. Then I go to work and he goes to his house. He comes back at lunch to let my dogs out. When I get home at 5, he comes over and I cook supper. (He does buy some groceries and will start dinner every once in a while.) He then stays until I leave for work the next day. And he's here every weekend, too. He does go home to shower.
I think after two years he should know whether he wants to marry me or not. His last divorce was 20 years ago, and mine was seven years ago. I love him, and he says he isn't putting me off, he just wishes I could be "patient." I think it's stupid to have two houses when he stays with me every night. I pay my own bills, and he pays his. Do you think I'm wasting my time with him? -- READY FOR CHANGE IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR READY: Whether you are wasting your time remains to be seen. After two years I don't think you are being "impatient" to want a commitment from him. That's why you both need to have a serious, lay-it-on-the-line discussion about what your goals are. If marriage isn't one of his, he should let you know now.
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