DEAR ABBY: I read your column regularly, and I am sometimes saddened by how much heartache people bring on themselves. Too often, it's the children who bear the brunt of their parents' selfishness and poor choices.
"Second Thoughts in New York" asked if she should move in with her boyfriend who has made it clear he doesn't want children, because he has bought a house he can't afford on his own. I beg her to listen to her better judgment. She will never be happy with a man who doesn't want children. Children need nurturing, and certainly our patience. Some men can't handle that. They will either leave or preoccupy themselves with their own endeavors.
I see these children in my neighborhood every day. A precious 4-year-old whose mother visits the man next door wistfully said to me, "My dad lives a long ways away." He knows this man is not his dad. Or the lonely 7-year-old I see sitting dejectedly on his front steps with his head in his hands. His mother works, spends her weekends with her boyfriend, and pays little attention to him. These children are cared for physically, but there's a big hole in their hearts because they long to be loved.
We are raising a generation of lost and confused children. Psychologists have concluded that children who grow up without love do not learn empathy. They cannot feel the pain others are experiencing. These are the teens who lash out in rage and go on shooting sprees and feel no remorse.
My advice to "Second Thoughts" is to seriously do just that –- give it some serious second thoughts. She should build her future on choices that will bring happiness to her and her future children, not regrets. -- GRANDMA IN MICHIGAN
DEAR GRANDMA: I agree with you that the greatest gift a child can have is two parents who are willing to put their child's needs at least on a par with their own.
DEAR ABBY: "Second Thoughts" wrote that she's 24 and ambivalent about moving with her boyfriend into a house he bought, but cannot afford without her. "We fit each other perfectly," she wrote, "in every respect except one. I want children. He doesn't." Her question was, should she move in under these circumstances?
Well, there are a few more things "Second Thoughts" should consider before packing her bags and moving in. If he can't afford the house without her, will she be expected to contribute toward the mortgage payment and taxes? Will she also work on the house and yard to get them the way they want them? Will she pay for some of the raw materials or the contract work if they don't do it all themselves?
Well, then, when she eventually realizes this guy really DOESN'T want children -- like he's been telling her -– and she finally moves out, who does she think will reap the benefit of the increase in property value because of all of her contributions?
If the boyfriend still can't keep the house by himself and must sell it, will he give her half the profits? If he can afford the place alone by then, will he give her half the increase in value since the time they moved in? Would she like to buy a nice bridge, too, because I have one for sale?
That girl needs the equivalent of a pre-nup and she needs it in writing -– no verbal promises -– and it should be drafted by her attorney! -- JEANETTE G., MILWAUKEE
DEAR JEANETTE: Thank you for the wake-up call. "Second Thoughts" is a young woman with her head in the clouds. Reading your letter will open her eyes and bring her -– and others like her -– back to Earth.