DEAR ABBY: My daughter just celebrated her first birthday, and I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that my father isn't a "baby person." He has tried holding "Krissy" only twice.
He and his wife showed up to her party an hour and a half late and left early. The gift they brought was for a much younger, smaller baby, and the price tag - from a budget store - was still on it. The gift cost less than $10. Dad and his wife are not poor; in fact, they are wealthy.
Dad isn't in good health, so I hate being mad at him. I don't know how many more years he'll be around. Should I talk to him about this, or just let him sit it out and do practically nothing to be a part of his only grandchild's life? My in-laws are happily involved with Krissy. What do I tell her when she's old enough to wonder why Grandpa never sees her?
- Melancholic mom in Michigan
DEAR MELANCHOLIC MOM: If it will make you feel better to talk to your father about this, by all means do so. But keep in mind that he comes from a generation of men who didn't necessarily relate to babies. Also, if he's in poor health, it may be a reason why he's not eager to hold her. It's possible he may relate better to his grandchild when she's old enough to talk and interact with him.
Tackle the question about how to respond to your daughter when she's old enough to question his absence if the issue arises. It's possible he may no longer be around by then. And if that's the case, hope he's more generous in his estate planning than he was on her first birthday.
DEAR ABBY: My mom is divorced. She lives alone in an isolated area and has been diagnosed with severe depression. About a year ago, while she was staying with my sister "Susie," my sister looked through Mom's online accounts and discovered that Mom's fiance is a prisoner. She also saw that Mom has been using a service to send large amounts of money to his prison account.
Susie has continued to log onto Mom's account. She tracks the amount of money she's sending this prisoner and reads the letters he sends to her. The content of some of them is scary. He insists Mom keep their relationship a secret, that she meet him upon his release from prison and marry him immediately.
It's apparent that I have two problems - one, that Susie is tracking Mom's private dealings. The other, that my mother is sending money she can't afford to a prisoner with a history of fraud and domestic abuse. What should I do?
- Desperate for answers
DEAR DESPERATE: Contact the warden of the prison, explain what has been going on and express your concerns, which are valid. It is entirely possible that your mother isn't the only lonely and vulnerable woman this prisoner has been extorting money from.
I have heard in the past from prison guards who have warned me that this is often a scam, and one that is quite common. In fact, the prisoners sometimes collaborate with one another in writing these communications to make them more effective.
DEAR ABBY: I was married for five years to a man I was afraid of. He was controlling, uptight and never let me out of his sight. When we divorced, I was happy, and I thought that would be the end of it.
However, I find myself going back to him every time he calls, in spite of knowing who he is and what he did to me. Why can't I get over him and move on?
- Back at Square One in Oklahoma
DEAR BACK AT SQUARE ONE: Possibly because you are co-dependent, have low self-esteem and are afraid he's the only man you can get. You would rather settle for the familiar than possibly have no one. Because the path you're on is destructive, please get some counseling to help you establish healthier relationships.