DEAR ABBY: How do I deal with guests and friends who make unfortunate comments about personal belongings in my home?
For example, I have a favorite print of a woman seated at a table. A friend commented, “Oh, we used to call her Mrs. Potato Head.” About my beautiful handwoven table runner depicting sliced fruit, a guest said, “Oh, those look like women’s private parts!”
I also display a beautiful statue of the three Graces, which I inherited from my beloved mother. Another friend piped up, “Oh, the three lesbians!” They have stolen the joy I had about the pieces. I can no longer look at these treasures without being reminded of those stupid, thoughtless remarks, and so I had to get rid of them.
What do I do if this happens again, or how do I prevent it? — PROUD OF POSSESSIONS IN MAINE
DEAR PROUD: No one should feel forced to get rid of objects they love because someone makes a thoughtless remark. If you get rid of anything, consider divesting yourself of the individuals who made those comments (probably in a failed attempt to be witty). If you do, you will have fewer acquaintances you need to muzzle.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been raising our 5-year-old grandson, “Kent,” since he was a baby. His mom, my daughter, was in his life but decided to leave him with us for six months, after which we hired a lawyer to gain custody of him. His mom has been absent from his life for two years.
There’s no relationship between them at all. Kent now calls me “Mom,” and I don’t know if it is a good idea that he calls me that. He has a mother but doesn’t remember her at all. He has no idea that I’m not his birth mom. What should I do? — ONLY MOM HE KNOWS
DEAR ONLY MOM: Of course, Kent calls you “Mom.” It is the role you have fulfilled since he was an infant. Do you have photos of your daughter around the house or family albums? If you don’t, consider displaying one or going through the family album with your grandson and explaining who is who in the pictures.
If he starts asking questions as he gets older, explain in an age-appropriate manner that your daughter felt he would be better off under your care. Then introduce more information as needed, which would be better than hitting him with the whole story all at once.
DEAR ABBY: I am a divorcee with two kids in college. I work as an aide. My boyfriend, a mechanic, has an auto shop. He charges me every time I take in my car (which is 14 years old) to be fixed or have an oil change.
Friends at work are telling me he shouldn’t charge me. I am confused. What do you think? — HAS TO PAY IN NEW YORK
DEAR HAS TO PAY: I’m glad you asked. When you take your car in for an oil change or repairs, you should reimburse your boyfriend for the oil and the parts. Because of your close personal relationship, a loving boyfriend might choose to give you a break on the labor, but that’s up to him — and it’s up to you whether he remains your boyfriend!
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.