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New mother is on her own when it comes to child care

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: My stepdaughter is married to a very selfish man. They have a newborn baby, and he refuses to help her with the baby. He claims that because he works, he isn't obligated.

She cares for the baby 24/7 and does all the housework, cooking, etc. If she asks him to feed the baby in the morning, he says, "I'm hungry, so I have to have my breakfast first," and he lets the baby cry. He also refuses to change a diaper.

What can she say or do that might encourage him to change his ways? It is unfair to her to work 24/7 like this, and she is exhausted. -- STEPGRANDMA IN ISRAEL

DEAR STEPGRANDMA: I agree the treatment your daughter is receiving is unfair. That her husband would eat while his infant is crying for food is beyond insensitive; it's neglectful and cruel. She should not expect this man to change his attitude. This is who he is, and he not only won't change, his self-centeredness will become worse with time.

If you can take in your grandchild -- and your stepdaughter -- and give her a chance to get some rest, please consider it. And while she is with you, point out that this will be her future as long as she remains with her husband.

DEAR ABBY: I have the most wonderful, caring, loving husband any wife could dream of, and together we have a very sweet dog who adores us both but my husband a bit too much, if I may put it that way. When my husband is relaxing on the couch, "Peanut" likes to, umm, "love on" his leg.

I know this is something dogs do, and I have read that it's a way to establish the alpha, but my husband doesn't dissuade her from this "loving" behavior. I find it disturbing, not so much because Peanut does it, but because my husband doesn't mind or even likes it. Is this normal? -- OTHER ALPHA IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR OTHER ALPHA: According to the ASPCA website, what Peanut is doing is normal behavior for animals of both sexes, including those that have been spayed or neutered. Your husband's acceptance of it, in my opinion, is less so.

DEAR ABBY: I know a man who is a wonderful person, but he has a habit that is very disturbing. He gets angry when I laugh. He says I shouldn't be laughing because he thinks what I'm laughing at isn't funny.

I used to start a phrase with, "The funny thing is," meaning strange or odd, and he would cut me off saying, "I don't see why you think that's funny." I have since changed the phrase to "The odd thing is" to keep the peace. How can I handle this without creating a scene or argument? It is annoying when we are alone and embarrassing when we are in public. --UNFUNNY IN TEXAS

DEAR UNFUNNY: I am sure it's embarrassing. "Wonderful" people do not correct others in public. They wait and do it privately. This person may have redeeming qualities, but tact and a sense of humor are not two of them. If telling him you don't like what he's doing and that it's inappropriate will cause a scene or an argument, my advice is to reevaluate the relationship.

DEAR ABBY: I was married for more than 30 years and have two grown children. The marriage wasn't perfect, and I admit there were times when I badly wanted to walk out the door. My husband was charismatic and talented, but he was also an addict. I covered up most of his bad behaviors so our children would be protected from being hurt. He passed away suddenly. My children adored him but never really knew how hard it was for me to keep our family together.

Fast-forward to today: I am dating an old family friend I'll call "Jeff," who knew my husband well. He saw my spouse at his best and his worst, so I don't have to sugarcoat my feelings with him. My issue is, I was so hurt during my marriage that I have a hard time trusting anyone. My anxiety is sometimes overwhelming.

Jeff is supportive and understanding and loves me despite my emotional behavior at times. My adult children are upset that I am dating and try to make me feel bad about it, which creates more stress. I don't want them to know all the hell I went through, but at the same time, I don't think their belittling me is appropriate. Is there a tactful way to explain to them that I just want to be happy and have the freedom to move forward? -- READY FOR THE FUTURE

DEAR READY: A polite, but assertive, way to convey your message might be to say: "I have just one life to live, kids, and I intend to live it to the fullest. Jeff and I are old friends -- he's not a stranger. I don't need your approval to move on with my life. If you can't stop belittling and second-guessing me and treat my friend with respect, you will be seeing a lot less of me."

ith the recent death of our father, she has started sticking her nose into the family's business affairs. This is not about money; our father died in debt.

I finally took exception to her overbearing behavior, and now I'm afraid I have damaged my relationship with my brother. What can be done? -- CORNERED IN KENTUCKY

DEAR CORNERED: The "pushy" woman your brother married is now a member of the family. When there is a death in the family, emotions can run high. If you feel you were too rough on your sister-in-law, you owe her an apology.

DEAR ABBY: A young, attractive female co-worker of my husband's addresses him by his first name ending with "ly" (example: "Georgely"). When I asked how the name was acquired, both of them claimed they didn't remember. They know I do not approve, particularly on social media for the world to see.

I consider pet names a term of endearment, to be reserved for one's significant other. Am I out of line, or are they? -- NAME-DROPPING IN WISCONSIN

DEAR NAME-DROPPING: What the pet name may signify is that your husband and his co-worker may have a closer personal relationship than simply a professional one. And in most cases, that isn't good for business. That he would allow this to persist publicly, knowing it bothers you, is disrespectful, and THAT is what is out of line.