Dear Abby: My 1-year-old baby recently passed away. I have two other children, one with special needs. I find it irritating and not at all comforting when people tell me that "at least I have other children and that I should concentrate on them."
How can I politely tell them that I have never stopped taking care of my other children, and that nothing eases the pain of burying your child? – Mourning My Baby in Puerto Rico
Dear Mourning: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of your child. My heart goes out to you.
While I can imagine that you might be tempted to lash out at these insensitive individuals, I hope you realize their comments are made out of ignorance. Sometimes it isn't what you say as much as how you say it. In a case like this, exactly what you have written to me would be an appropriate response as long as it is said calmly and without anger.
Dear Abby: My daughter was married for eight years before divorcing her cheating husband. They have two children. When my daughter found out about the affair, she was inconsolable. The girlfriend actually phoned her and said, "Why are you so upset? Everyone cheats!"
Now, two years later, the girlfriend is pregnant. My daughter would like a paternity test done before the kids are introduced to this new child. She thinks it would be harmful if they are introduced to a new half-sibling who may later prove to belong to another man. ("Everyone cheats"?)
What do you think about this? Is it wrong for my daughter to want proof that this is her ex's baby? He feels certain he's the father, but he also knows the other woman has kept in touch with her ex-boyfriend. – Just Wondering in Connecticut
Dear Just Wondering: If your daughter's ex wants to claim paternity without a paternity test, there is no legal basis I can think of to prevent him from being considered the father. While your daughter has reason to be angry at her ex and to dislike the woman with whom he cheated, she can't prevent her children from seeing the baby if he wants them to.
(P.S. You'd think her ex would WANT to know for certain, but it takes all kinds ...)
Dear Abby: What is the best way to answer your children when they ask if you have taken drugs? I smoked a little marijuana back in college, but stopped before graduation and I haven't done it since.
My children are about ready to go to high school. I have avoided answering their questions in the past, but I know I'll have to say something sometime. What? – Tongue-Tied in Anytown, USA
Dear Tongue-Tied: I don't believe in lying to children. When you are asked, tell them you tried it in college, didn't like it and considered it a waste of time. Then tell them that as long as they are living under your roof, using ANY illegal substance will not be condoned.
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.