DEAR ABBY: I cannot believe it! My parents tricked me into comforting a child molester.
When I was young, my uncle "Dave" went to prison. My family told it like this: "Dave had an affair with a 17-year-old girl who was pretending to be 18. They made a sex tape, her parents found it and accused him of rape. He went to prison for life."
My parents visit and talk to him regularly, although nobody else in the extended family does, and they always encouraged me to communicate with him. They say he made "poor decisions" but doesn't deserve his prison sentence or the family neglect. I felt bad for him, so I willingly joined in phone calls and letter writing.
I recently mentioned all this to a friend who is experienced in the legal field. He thought the story sounded peculiar, so we looked up Dave and found out he had multiple counts of sexual assault on a child under 14. In other words, my parents tricked me into regular conversations with a child molester.
I'm floored. Should I confront them? If so, what do I say? Should I tell my brother? I want nothing to do with Dave, and I'm horrified that my parents would lie in his defense. -- HORRIFIED IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR HORRIFIED: I can understand why you want nothing to do with this relative. Tell your parents that you have written to me. Ask them why they chose to minimize what your uncle did and encourage you to communicate with a predator. Doing so was a gross betrayal of your trust. I'm not sure how they can justify their actions because it is the job of parents to protect their child.
You should absolutely tell your brother what has been happening because it's appalling.
DEAR ABBY: I love my boyfriend. We have been together nearly six years, but there are a few issues. The biggest one is his diet.
He eats like it's going out of style. The only reason he's not 400 pounds is because his job keeps him active. He has put on 60 pounds since we started dating, and we can no longer sleep together because of the snoring his weight gain has caused. He can no longer stand to be outdoors when he's home because it's always "too hot."
When we first started seeing each other, he was fit and active. Now he comes home, eats and stares at his phone. He's always unhappy with his weight, but when I ask him to please eat better, his response is, "Nothing makes me as happy as a cookie." He would rather be a 500-pound blob who never had to move if it meant he could eat cake all day.
I feel he has chosen food over me. I'm only 27, and I know I'll have to sleep alone for however long I'm with him. I don't know if I can do that. I make an effort to maintain myself for him, but clearly, the favor isn't returned. What are your thoughts? -- WORRYING IN FLORIDA
DEAR WORRYING: If nothing makes your boyfriend happier than eating a cookie, it's time you got to the bottom of what is eating him. When a fit and active person suddenly loses interest in his health and becomes careless about his diet, one has to wonder if he may be using food to cope with painful or unpleasant emotions. Continue to help and support him as much as you can, but frankly, it may be time for the two of you to seek relationship counseling from a licensed mental health professional before your boyfriend's diet causes permanent damage to his health.
DEAR ABBY: I love my parents. They are thoughtful, intelligent people who supported (even encouraged) me to attend a good school on the East Coast. I now live with my boyfriend in Connecticut, where my job is located. He's 23; I am 22. We would like to start a family within the next five years, but I worry that our children will never see their grandparents on my side.
I grew up with both sets of grandparents nearby. They contributed so much to my personhood and upbringing that being without them would likely have been a detriment. The idea of my parents being strangers to my kids makes me sad and anxious.
I feel so guilty already that I want to be proactive in this. Barring the slim possibility of them moving here from Chicago, how can I help them be active grandparents when the time comes? How can I help my kids love and appreciate my parents as much as I loved my own grandma and grandpa, despite the distance? -- LONGING IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR LONGING: You may be getting ahead of yourself. Slow down. Take things one step at a time. Get married and start planning your family.
Many geographically separated families stay in contact by using video chat, but it's a poor substitute for actual human contact and shared interests. Because this bothers you to the degree that it does, discuss it with your parents. Not knowing the state of their finances or the degree of their freedom to travel, it's hard to guess how involved they may be with your children. However, if you, your boyfriend and they put your heads together, I'm sure you can arrive at a solution.
DEAR ABBY: I have been friends with "Skip" for a very long time. Our lives have taken us on very different paths. We have always disagreed about certain philosophical issues, but now the divide in our opinions is huge.
Skip makes statements and posts items on social media that, in my opinion, are outrageous. Some of them appear to be merely contrarian. Several other friends have commented about his posts.
I am concerned about Skip because of the extreme nature of his posts, and I think some friends are concerned, too. Skip and I live far away from each other. His family doesn't live near him, so contacting them probably won't help. I am concerned that what I am seeing is beyond a difference of opinion, but I don't know what, if anything, to do about it. Do you have any suggestions? -- JUST POLITICS?
DEAR J.P.: If you are concerned about Skip's mental health, then regardless of his family's lack of geographic proximity, they should be told you are worried about him and why. If you are afraid he might engage in activity in which he could pose a danger to himself or others, notify the authorities. However, if this is simply a matter of being at opposite ends of the political spectrum, it may be time to snooze Skip's posts or block him entirely.