DEAR ABBY: My son, "Beau," married "Patsy" four years ago. She left him after two years and moved out of state. There are no legal separation papers, no child support, and my grandson lives with his daddy.
Beau has a mistress now and tells people they're "engaged." "Luci's" family refers to my son as her fiance and she's considered Mommy to my grandson. When I corrected those titles at a recent family function, it caused friction.
In my opinion, they can't be engaged until Beau is first divorced. To me, marriage is important; it matters. I am disturbed by my son's refusal to end his marriage. I feel it is unfair to Luci, who just had his second child. Beau claims Patsy left him, so she should file for the divorce.
Please understand that Luci and I have become close. She's thoughtful, intelligent, well-spoken, and a wonderful mother to both my grandchildren. I just feel Beau should finish his first marriage. This is not the type of man I meant to raise, and that this is the person he has become shames me to my soul.
Am I out of step with society? Am I the only one who finds this setup unfair to Luci and insulting to me, the mother who tried to raise him to be a better man than this? I have talked to a counselor, Abby, and it's killing me. -- DISRESPECTED MOTHER IN TEXAS
DEAR MOM: You're not out of step, and you are correct that the current arrangement is unfair to Luci. If your son should die tomorrow (heaven forbid), Patsy would be a merry widow with all his assets, and Luci would be left with fond memories and a baby to raise by herself. Period.
Not knowing Beau, I can't know his reasons for not divorcing the woman who left him and ensuring that Luci and the children are taken care of. But I am sure of this: His reasons are not solely that he thinks his wife should be the one to file.
Raising a child well does not guarantee he (or she) will turn out to be a carbon copy of his or her parent. So for your own sake, please stop personalizing this.
DEAR ABBY: I was out to lunch with my son, his new wife, "Taylor," and her family. My son asked, "Mom, do you want something else to eat?" Naturally, I thought he was speaking to me, so I answered. I was crushed when he said, "No, I was talking to 'Sally'" (Taylor's mother)!
I feel it's wrong for my son to call someone else Mom, and furthermore, Sally should have said something, but she didn't. Taylor and I are close, but she would never call me Mom, especially in front of her own mother. Am I being silly? Or should I let this go? -- HIS ONLY MOM
DEAR ONLY MOM: Let it go. Your son was probably calling Taylor's mother "Mom" because he had been asked to do so. ("'Sonny,' we're family now. Please call me 'Mom.'") It would not, however, be confrontational to tell your son that hearing him do it was hard to swallow.
DEAR ABBY: I walk daily with a friend who constantly complains about her job -- "I have seven meetings, a person to train and emails to write, blah, blah, blah ..." I occasionally have an opening to mention my problems, but it's rare. I love this friend, but her constant complaining is wearing on me. How can I get her to just enjoy the break and not spend 20 minutes moaning and groaning? -- WEARING THIN IN VIRGINIA
DEAR WEARING THIN: Try this. The next time she does it, say: "Let's not take the office with us. Let's enjoy our break and use the time to talk about other things." Say it with a smile, then change the subject.
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.
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