Mom makes snide remarks over new boyfriend’s weight
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 35-year-old single mom. I've dated a few people over the last seven years, but none of them wanted to commit. Several months ago, I started seeing "Joey," a friend of a couple of years. He's sweet, respectful, hardworking, and he helps me whenever I need it.
Joey is on the heavy side, but he's clean and kempt. I introduced him to my mom, and she continues to say he is "gross." She refers to him only as "that man" and never by his name. He has always been very polite and has never said anything to her out of the way.
My son and I have lived with Mom ever since my divorce, and I have helped her out with more than my share of the bills and groceries. I'm currently trying to buy a house, but the market is competitive with the low interest rates. I work full time, take great care of my son and do lots of chores around the house.
How can I convince my mother to accept Joey, or should I ignore what she says as long as he's good to my son and me? -- FOUND A GOOD GUY IN THE SOUTH
DEAR FOUND: Nothing you can do will make your mother accept Joey. Most parents judge the men in their daughters' lives by how they treat their daughters, rather than a number on the scale. Has it occurred to you that she may be afraid your relationship with Joey could develop to the point you will no longer be around to do chores and help her with the bills?
From your description of him, "that man" is definitely a keeper. As long as he is good to you and your son and you care for him, please don't allow your mother to discourage you. As an adult, it's important to make your own decisions and live your own life without interference.
DEAR ABBY: My younger sister is a bipolar, narcissistic, psychotic, evil woman with bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology and counseling. She has hated me from birth. I know exactly what she is, and she can't stand that I do.
She spreads lies about me because our mother was alive for my wedding and not for hers and, according to her, it's my fault. (Mama died 10 years ago.) I made her maid of honor at my wedding and godmother to my child, but no matter what I do, she complains to anyone who will listen about what a horrible person she thinks I am. Because of her education, family members believe everything she says without question.
Our adult lives have been spent with her shutting me out and gossiping about me to extended family. How can I convince my relatives to listen to me? I have no one on my side when it comes to her because the family knows about her mental health issues and tell me to get over it. I can't! Please help me. -- CAN'T GO ON LIKE THIS
DEAR CAN'T GO ON: That your sister has graduate degrees in psychology and counseling does not guarantee that she isn't mentally ill. Your relatives are aware of her mental health issues and have advised you not to overreact. Perhaps you should take that to heart.
Find another godmother for your child, because clearly this one is unsuitable, and spend as little time around your sister as you can. If necessary, start replacing unsupportive family members with friends you can trust to be supportive. The only thing you should not do is continue to allow your sick sister to rule your life.
DEAR ABBY: My 7-year-old granddaughter, "Leyla," has a playmate who is a transgender girl. My fear is that she may find out the truth and feel betrayed by her playmate as well as me. Should I explain it to her?
It doesn't matter to me that her friend is transgender because I have always believed that a person's most important trait is having good morals. I'm an upfront and honest person. However, with respect to this subject, I feel that if I remain silent, it's as though I'm somehow betraying my granddaughter.
Leyla is very accepting of all people, and I don't believe it would change her relationship with the child as long as I explain everything to her about people who are trans. Any advice would be appreciated. -- PROGRESSIVE GRAN IN ARIZONA
DEAR GRAN: Do Leyla's parents know about the friendship? Assuming they do, have a chat with them, as well as the playmate's parents, to make sure you're all on the same page. I do not think you should "out" Leyla's playmate to her. But I DO think it is time you start talking to your granddaughter about gender and what makes a girl a girl and what makes a boy a boy.
At some point, her friend may feel comfortable enough about the friendship -- and herself -- to tell Leyla herself. When that happens, be prepared to answer any questions your granddaughter may have. PFLAG, an organization I have mentioned before in my column, is an excellent resource for LGBTQ issues and will be helpful to you if you reach out. Its website is pflag.org.
DEAR ABBY: My worst fear has come true. My daughter just became engaged to someone we do not approve of. They have been together for three years, and it has been three years of drama -- from not working because they have to be together 24/7 to domestic violence. Must I attend the wedding? Should I help her plan it? She is my first born and I adore her, but I feel she is making a huge mistake. -- RELUCTANT IN OHIO
DEAR RELUCTANT: I am going to assume that you have expressed your feelings and concerns to your daughter. If that's the case, then you must accept that she is an adult and capable of making her own decisions.
Should you help plan the wedding? Yes, as long as you are not paying for it. Should you attend even though you don't approve of her choice of husband? Absolutely! If he's a violent abuser, she is going to need family around her so she doesn't become isolated and totally under his control. Her life could depend on it.
DEAR ABBY: Sadly, my son passed away (suicide), leaving his two younger sisters. I am often asked how many children I have, and I'm never sure how to respond. I feel it would be disrespectful to my son's memory if I don't include him. However, if I do, it invariably leads to more questions than I care to answer. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. -- REMEMBERING HIM
DEAR REMEMBERING: I am sorry for your loss. While a question about children is a way people often use to establish a common bond, it can be an emotionally loaded one. Consider offering this response: "I have three children. One of them is in heaven." If you are pressed further, it would not be impolite to respond that the subject is painful and you would rather not discuss it.