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DEAR ABBY: I was divorced when my son was 9. He's now 24. My ex-wife married the man she had been having an affair with and they have a 12-year-old son. I am also remarried and in a good place in my life.
For the past two years, my son has brought his half brother to our beach house for a weekend of fun. We honored this request and enjoy time with our son, but it is difficult having his half brother in my home. It brings up emotions I thought I had put behind me years ago.
I do not want these visits to continue, and I need to communicate this. I'd like to have an adult conversation with my son to explain the situation. How much do I tell him about my emotional reasons without being negative about his mom?
I also don't think he should have to carry the news to my ex or disappoint a 12-year-old. Should I send a simple note to her and explain that we will no longer host her son?
- Needs the right words
DEAR NEEDS: By all means write your ex. Explain that entertaining her son brings up emotions you would rather not have to relive. It's not the boy's fault that he's the flesh-and-blood symbol of his mother's infidelity, but you don't have to have him there if you don't want to.
If you would like to have a man-to-man talk with your son, go ahead and do it. He's an adult. Tell him pretty much the same thing - that having the boy over is painful for you and, therefore, you prefer the beach house visits stop. You are entitled to your feelings, and your son is old enough to appreciate them.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a widow, as are many of my friends these days. Widowhood is difficult. If you're not prepared, it can be horrible. That's why I'd like to urge women to learn to take care of themselves because the odds are they will be alone sooner or later after the age of 50. Some suggestions:
1. If you haven't already, learn to drive.
2. Learn to pump gas and how to check your tires and the fluids in your car.
3. Learn to use a few basic tools and do home repairs.
4. Pay attention to financial matters such as balancing a checkbook.
5. Know where your records are, what's in them and what information you will need for taxes.
6. Buy a shredder and shred unnecessary papers.
7. Make friends with other women. If you don't, life gets lonely.
8. Be courageous and do what you need to do to be happy.
9. Start to simplify your home. It will free your mind from clutter and, if necessary, allow you to move to smaller quarters.
10. Let your children lead their lives, lead your own and present a cheerful face to the world!
- Kathleen in Duluth, Minn.
DEAR KATHLEEN: Those are excellent suggestions, to which I would add how important it is to consult a CPA and a lawyer if your spouse hasn't already shown you what you need to know.
A HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY TO MY IRISH READERS:
May you always have
A sunbeam to warm you
Good luck to charm you
And a sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you
Laughter to cheer you
Faithful friends near you
And whenever you pray, heaven to hear you.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.