2012-01-20 / Et Cetera

Dear Abby

Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: What do you think about people who attempt to converse with you from another room? My boyfriend does it fairly often. He may be on the computer while I’m reading or watching TV, and he’ll yell out a question or tell me something. Most of the time I answer him, but then he’ll continue the conversation — all from the other room.

I find it rude, and to be quite honest, disrespectful. I also think it makes no sense because with the TV on it’s difficult to hear him. If I want to speak to someone in another room, I get off my “keester” and go directly to him or her. That’s common sense. My former roommate used to do the same thing. Do you think this is a “ guy thing”?



DEAR CAN’T HEAR: Nope. It’s just lazy. And it continues because you allow it. Tell your boyfriend that if he has something he wants to say to you, he should come and say it. Point out that you give him that respect. And if he “ forgets,” stay put and don’t answer from the other room.

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend with whom I exchange birthday and Christmas gifts. I make a great deal of effort to find things I know she would like, and I have been quite successful. My friend, however, buys me things I suspect she would like for herself.

Example: I’m always hot while she’s always chilly. She bought me heavy pajamas and a warm robe for Christmas. I don’t like spicy food — she does. She gave me two large containers of seasoning containing chili pepper. I love to read fiction while she prefers nonfiction. For my birthday I received a book about history.

This kind of exchange has been going on for years, and I don’t remember receiving one gift I could really use. What can I say to her?



DEAR PEEVED: To say something would be rude. I do have a suggestion, however. On the next gift- giving occasion, give your friend some things YOU would like. Example: A pretty fan to accessorize a summer dress, a jar of your favorite jam, a novel or two you would enjoy reading — and then you can agree on a gift exchange. Problem solved.

DEAR ABBY: I have a 2- year- old son, “ Seth.” His father, “Ray,” and I went our separate ways during my pregnancy. He came to see Seth a few times when he was a couple of months old and promised he’d continue, but he didn’t follow through. Ray has married since then, and hasn’t called to ask about his son. I don’t call him either.

He didn’t show up for court and the DNA test, so the judge ordered him to pay child support by default, which he has been doing. I don’t believe in forcing a man to be a father, and I would never make my son visit him. It is obvious Ray has no interest in his child. I contacted the grandparents and they are just as cold. What do I tell Seth when he asks about his father?


DEAR SOLE PARENT: Tell him the truth. Explain that when he was born, Ray wasn’t ready to accept the responsibilities that go along with being a dad — and that as time has passed, Ray has been unwilling to step forward. As sad as that may be, it would be worse to give your son false information or false hope that his biological father will ever be willing to give him more than the court ordered him to.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

DEAR ABBY: I caught my 16- year- old daughter, “Krista,” smoking marijuana. I punished her for it, but never told my wife because I was afraid she’d force me to make a decision that I don’t want to make.

I have been married to my second wife for three years. For much of that time, Krista has been a nightmare. When she goes to school, more often than not she’s in the principal’s office for bad behavior. At home she’s worse. She doesn’t listen to anyone. We have tried every type of punishment we can think of and nothing has worked.

Recently, my wife brought up the idea of sending Krista to a boarding school for troubled teens. At first, the suggestion made me angry, but after the marijuana incident I am more receptive to it. I am wracked with guilt. Sending my daughter away makes me feel like a failure as a father. But there may be no other choice. How does a parent know when enough is enough?



DEAR FATHER: Do not send your daughter away to a boarding school for “troubled teens” without first having a psychologist identify what is troubling her. If you do what your wife is suggesting, your daughter could return home with more problems than she left with. Sending her away should be a LAST resort. Some family counseling should be tried first.

DEAR ABBY: A friend has been confiding in me, telling me her husband abuses her. She says it has gone on the entire 12 years they have been together. He does it in front of the kids, sometimes even while she’s nursing or holding their youngest. He also threatens to shoot her. I’m afraid for her safety.

She left him once, but went back after he promised to change and temporarily became the charming man she wishes him to be. She knows she needs to leave again, and I have told her I’ll help her in any way I can to make it happen. She’s trying to hold out until she finishes her degree and can financially support the kids on her own. I’m afraid she won’t make it that long.

I feel so helpless. I worry that by standing by and not taking some kind of action, I’ll be partly responsible for anything that may happen to the kids. On the other hand, she tells me these things in confidence. What can I do to help?



DEAR TERRIFIED: Continue encouraging your friend to leave. A man who abuses, terrorizes and threatens to shoot his wife — in front of the children, yet — would have no hesitation about hurting all of them.

By now she should have realized that her abuser will never be the man she imagined him to be. The time to leave is while things are calm — before his next outburst. In order for him to control her, he needs to keep her dependent. If he senses that she’s nearing a point where she can support herself and the children without him, he could explode.

Make sure she knows how to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The toll-free number is 800- 799-7233. The experts there can help her formulate as safe an escape plan as possible.

DEAR ABBY: I am currently in a relationship that has become a roller coaster ride for the last few months. My significant other is always accusing me of cheating. He also starts arguments for no reason. Sometimes I wonder if he is having an affair and trying to throw the blame on me for his guilt issues. What do you think?



DEAR ARGUED OUT: That’s very possible. Another reason might be that he’s no longer interested in you and wants to break up. Rather than tolerate his emotional abuse, take the bull by the horns and ask him.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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