DEAR ABBY: I am the oldest of four children. I grew up in a family that looked perfect from the outside, but was far from it. My parents tried to shield us from most of the problems, but because I'm the oldest, I remember a lot.
My parents both had affairs. My siblings recently learned about the affair Dad had because Mom told them, but they have no idea about the one Mom had. Because of this, my brother hardly speaks to Dad.
Mom was diagnosed with a mental disorder when I was a child. I remember her violent outbursts. I know Dad stayed only for us. We're all adults now, and my parents are divorced. My mother plays the victim and my brother blames Dad for everything. It breaks my heart.
I have tried to convince Mom to stop trying to hurt Dad through my brother, but she won't. I want my family to be able to attend milestones without turmoil. I don't know how to make this better. Please help. -- DOESN'T WANT THE TURMOIL
DEAR DOESN'T: Making this better may take the help of a licensed professional and some family counseling -- provided everyone is willing to cooperate. But don't count on your mother. She doesn't appear to be interested in healing any breaches. I do think, however, that because you are all adults, your siblings should know the entire story about your parents' infidelities -- particularly your brother, so his relationship with Dad can be repaired.
DEAR ABBY: Our son recently told us he will be proposing to his girlfriend before Christmas. We're happy for him, but concerned that he'll want to get married next year, which will be our 25th anniversary. We can't afford to celebrate our 25th the way we want to and help with their expensive wedding. We have been planning this for years, and we don't want to sacrifice our celebration for their plans.
We think they should either postpone the wedding or pay for it themselves. We have always taken care of our son, but we feel 2014 is "our" time. Are we wrong, and how can we tell him without feeling guilty? -- PARENTS OF THE FUTURE GROOM
DEAR PARENTS: While you have always taken care of your son, he is an adult now and you should be able to communicate with him on an adult level. Tell him how pleased you are that he and his girlfriend are planning to be married, but that you will be unable to contribute financially because you're celebrating your 25th in 2014 and can't afford to do both.
Not all couples marry soon after becoming engaged. Some wait a year or longer, and more and more couples pay for their own weddings these days, so don't feel guilty.
DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a man for the last three years who is very much my senior. His children are also much older than I am, and there is a mutual awkwardness when we interact. My boyfriend does the best he can to ease the situation, but it is painfully obvious that they are uncomfortable with our relationship and my presence. What can I do to show them I want to be viewed as family, too? -- UNWELCOME IN ONTARIO, CANADA
DEAR UNWELCOME: There is nothing you can do. But there is something your boyfriend can do. He can make it clear to his adult children that unless they make you feel more welcome than they have done, they will be seeing less of both of 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.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)
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- DEAR ABBY