Daughter's new kitten brings comfort, conflict to household

Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: My 34-year-old daughter lives with me to get ahead on her student loans. She has a good job, pays rent and has a serious boyfriend. My niece, her cousin, recently died by suicide, and naturally, we are all devastated, but my daughter took the news especially hard. I had to be out of town for three weeks, and during this time she has been spending time with my sister-in-law's family as they all navigate this tragedy.

My niece left behind several pets -- dogs and a mama cat with kittens. My daughter called me, announced she had brought a kitten home and declared that this kitten has helped her in her grief process. I am livid that she didn't ask me first (she knew the answer would be a firm "no"). She's now claiming that I don't care about her grief.

I feel emotionally blackmailed, and I'm dreading the confrontation when I get home. This kitten has taken this devastating tragedy to a new level. How should I handle this? -- FAMILY GRIEF

DEAR FAMILY GRIEF: While I understand your feelings, handle it by being less hard-nosed about the fact that your daughter didn't follow protocol by asking permission before bringing home the kitten. Allow her to keep it, and during those times when she can't be home because she's working, etc., encourage her to leave the little furball with her boyfriend. Make plain that the creature is -- and will be -- her responsibility, meaning she will be responsible for feeding, vet bills, litter box, etc. And, most important of all, try not to fall in love with it because when your daughter leaves, Kitty will be going with her.

DEAR ABBY: I am a straight female. I have been divorced for 10-plus years and recently decided, after five years of trying to attract a new man through online dating, that I want to be single and celibate for the rest of my life.

Literally days after I wrote the decision in my journal, guys are coming at me out of the woodwork, chatting me up, even giving unsolicited hugs. I'm bewildered.

I subscribed to a dating site for a full-year membership and got not one single reply to any of my messages. Not one! I also tried a different dating site, where my friend met her spouse. It yielded crickets. No man ever messaged me to say, "Hey, I like your photo and want to know more about you." This reinforces my decision that I want nothing to do with men. -- LEAVE ME ALONE

DEAR LEAVE ME ALONE: And your question is? If you are asking me to validate a decision you made out of frustration after a year of terrible luck, I can't in good conscience do that. We can't run from life because we are afraid of the pain of being open. That is the coward's choice.

If men are showing an interest, allow them to get to know you and vice versa, instead of hiding. Be present and live your life in situations that include available people, which sometimes yields better results than the pressure of online dating.

DEAR ABBY: I'm really uncomfortable about my father's new relationship. He is 50 and dating a girl who is 19 -- only two years older than I am. She went to my high school.

I think their age difference is disgusting. He knows how I feel about it, and he doesn't care. We fought, and I told him I wouldn't talk to him anymore. I would rather live with my mom full time than spend half my time at his house.

I haven't seen or spoken to him in more than a month, and I am hurt that he would choose his girlfriend over me. My father and I were never super close, but we had a decent relationship. I looked up to him.

Without him in my life I feel like something is missing. I have tried to get over how I feel and force myself to accept the situation regardless of how uncomfortable it makes me feel, but I just can't! I have lost respect for him. I feel like he is a pervert.

How can I take his parental advice seriously or listen when he tries to discipline me when he is dating someone my age? It makes me wonder if he treats his girlfriend like his daughter and tries to parent her, too -- which is just creepy. What can I do to feel better? -- HATES DAD'S TEEN ROMANCE

DEAR HATES: I would love to know how that girl's parents feel about this love match. Your father may be flattered that someone so young would have a romantic interest in him. Being with her may make him forget that he's 31 years older -- past middle age -- and think he's a cool young dude again.

When there is that great an age difference, the older person is usually the one calling the shots, and the balance of power in the relationship is unequal. If your father is parenting her, it may be because she needs a "daddy" and it makes him feel important.

You'll start feeling better as soon as you accept that you can't control what your father does and realize that his relationship with your contemporary may not last. In the meantime, focus on your studies.

DEAR ABBY: The world seems bleak to many of us who are self-quarantined. I ordered quarts of ice cream from a local ice cream company, picked them up at the store with coolers and ice packs in my car and delivered them to the front doors of several friends. As I was driving away, I called and told them to check their porch. They were all surprised and pleased to have a little pick-me-up for their day.

Last night, one of these friends dropped off cinnamon rolls. She knocked and left. She wanted them to be at our house for breakfast today. Neither of these were big, expensive items, but they brought a smile when there isn't much to smile about these days. -- PAY IT FORWARD IN THE SOUTH

DEAR PAY IT: Comfort food comes in many forms -- ice cream, baked goods of every variety, chocolate. And it's all the more tasty when shared among friends as you have described. All of these quick fixes work, at least for a little while. I am now trying to repent from my torrid affair with pralines 'n' cream ice cream.