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Girlfriend staying as guest deserves respect

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

Dear Abby: Last August my husband and I allowed our son's 17-year-old girlfriend, "Lindsay," to move into our home from out of state because she needs to live here for a year to establish residency for school. She's a wonderful girl, mature, social and helpful.

My problem is my other sons (ages 18 and 14) are very angry that we have allowed a "stranger" to move in. My 18-year-old is a college student who lives on campus an hour away, but comes home on weekends. He and his younger brother feel I show favoritism to Lindsay and make frequent comments about the non-family member.

They worry that I'm spending money on her even though they know her mom sends her money.

I'll admit it has been nice to have a girl around. My boys sleep half the day away on weekends, but she gets up and is happy to run errands with me. I still include my sons in many activities without Lindsay, as I always have, and I did not anticipate this hostility. I feel bad for her because they make little attempt to hide it. My son loves his girlfriend, and I want her to feel comfortable and welcome without alienating my other sons. Help! – Mom Of Three Sons

Dear Mom: You and your husband are the parents, which means you are supposed to be running this "asylum" – not the inmates. The decision about who should or should not be a guest in your home is not up to your jealous older and younger boys, who appear to be suffering from a form of "sibling" rivalry.

As a guest in your home, Lindsay should be treated with respect, and it's not happening. You should insist upon it, and if your wishes are not complied with, there should be consequences.

Dear Abby: My husband of five years has three children from previous marriages. Earlier this year he learned some disturbing information about his youngest child. He opted not to share the information with me so as not to violate her privacy. I found out about it a few weeks ago, and I am deeply hurt that I was excluded.

I feel I have never been included as a true part of the family, and this is just another example. He feels his explanation justifies his actions and that should be the end of it. I am concerned that he will keep other things from me he feels are none of my business in the future. I am not at all comfortable with this situation. Do you think I am overreacting? – Stepmonster in the South

Dear Stepmonster: Yes, I do. Your husband decided not to discuss something with you that he felt would violate his daughter's privacy. Much as you might like to, you can't push your way into being accepted. If relationships are going to happen, they must evolve naturally. So calm down and stop personalizing this. It isn't a threat to your marriage unless you make it so.

Dear Abby: In this day and age, with computers and the ability to backspace, cut, paste and delete so easily, why do you still use a P.S.? Seems to me that P.S. needs to be used only with handwritten letters. – Candice in Phoenix

Dear Candice: Mmmm ... not so fast. The majority of my readers communicate with me via the Internet, as you did. They use P.S. to indicate that what they are saying is an afterthought and so do I in some of my responses.

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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