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Personal Advice Column




Trapped by Suicide,  Infidelity, Jailbait, Step-Mom


Dear Mrs. Web,
I want to break up with my boyfriend. We have a lousy relationship but we have been together for a long time. I am afraid he will commit suicide if we break up. What should I do?
A boyfriend is not a forever commitment. Break up with him if you want. He is responsible for his life and well-being, not you. Let his family members and friends know he may become suicidal so he can be taken to an emergency room to be evaluated if needed. Never let someone hold you hostage.

Dear Mrs. Web,
My wife and I have been married for 18 years. Last year I had a one-night stand with an acquaintance. Big mistake. I told my wife and I thought we had worked things out. Financial problems caused some additional strains in our marriage and I emotionally withdrew when she tried to help and support me. Recently my wife has started to party around with neighbors and comes home at all hours. Last week I showed up at one of the parties and she was kissing a buddy. I lost my temper and smashed windows and trashed the room. The bill came to over $2000.00 plus the emergency room costs for the gashes on my hands. She cried and apologized. I love her and our three children and I forgave her. Last night she went out partying again and was obviously focused on my old buddy. She is in love with someone else...and I know this guy he will just use her. He has been calling her all week. I don’t want to face up to the possibility that our marriage is over. What to do?
You were unfaithful to your wife. She is playing around with your buddy. You lost control and are violent. She is pulling away from you. It sounds like you both are heartbroken and acting out. You need intensive marriage counseling. Pronto! With someone who values marriage highly and knows how to put together a severely tested relationship. See the link on my blue sidebar at my website: Choosing a Therapist. Couples have come through much worse and have gone on to have vital, passionate marriages.

Dear Mrs. Web,
My daughter is 23. She has been going through a tough time. A 16-year-old boy has had a crush on her and I am afraid she will start becoming intimate with him. They are starting to spend more time together. What should I tell her?
That he will be the age of consent in two years? That you will notify the boy's parents? That she will look lousy in the prison orange jumpsuits? I would emphasize the criminal aspect of messing with a minor. Tell her that you can understand her loneliness and eagerness for a relationship but that there are plenty of men out there who are not jailbait.

Dear Mrs. Web,
My husband and I have been married now for two years. He has a child from a previous marriage and who is three. My husband shares custody with his former wife. I am home now with our new baby and the little boy is now living at our house over 75% of the time. His mother is dumping him on us. My husband would like full custody, if he can get it, and he seem to expect that I am going to baby-sit this boy practically everyday. We don’t have enough time alone with each other and with our baby. How can I deal with this fairly?
You married a man with a child and responsibilities that go beyond you and the child you created together. Your husband seems to be trying to create a family and it seems that your stepson is not welcome. This is the tough part of step parenting. There is a child here that needs a mom. It is time for you and your husband to get on the same page about this little guy. My heart goes out to him. Madam, life is not about being fair, life is about being responsible, courageous and coping with grace when life provides the unexpected.



Teaching Alcohol Use to Teens

Let’s talk about alcohol use and raising children to be responsible drinkers.  I know that heroin addictions and deaths are getting a lot of press, but alcohol addiction claims the most lives here in the States.  

Children of parents who are heavy and inappropriate uses of alcohol often become heavy and inappropriate user of alcohol themselves.  Heavy daily use, frequent drunkenness, DUIs, and other alcohol fueled issues and dramas,  like that punched out wallboard,  all contribute to the most misuse of alcohol by the heavy drinker’s children as they trek into adulthood  The work of these parents is to get sober and then recovered.  Sobriety and recovery are two different things.  Sober is just not drinking, but life is pretty much the same, angry, dramatic or disappeared.  Recovery is about building a different life, not centered on alcohol, and thus becoming a person of integrity and improving social and family relationships.


The next group are parents who do not drink, ever.  No alcohol in their house.  These people either cannot drink themselves, do not care for it, have lousy memories of alcohol in the family, or have religious objections.    This group of parents produce teens and adults that do not know how to drink.  In college and young adulthood these young men and women are the second heaviest users of alcohol.   Which exactly is NOT what these parents want for their children.

 The third category of parents are the parents who use alcohol moderately and mostly in a celebratory way. (and Dear Mrs. Web does not mean Yay!  The sun came up!  Yay! The sun went down kinds of celebrations, either!). 

 These moderate-use parents talk to their children  and teens about alcohol use and misuse.  They disparage drunkenness and point out that responsible alcohol use is a hallmark of maturity.  They show their children how to drink, for there is nothing sadder than an alcohol-poisoned teen explaining that he thought that 3 to 5 water glasses of vodka were normal party doses. 


Teaching moderate drinking is providing children with an occasional glass of wine cut with water or beer with dinner.  Yes, I said children, for if you think that a cram course of appropriate alcohol use at age 17 just in time for the Prom is going to cut it, you are wrong.  You want your information and attitudes in their little brains WAY before the culture and their friends make inroads.  You will offer them the occasional drink at home, perhaps once a month or so.  You will talk to them about appropriate amounts in a drink and about prudent drinking, which is not more that one or two appropriately-sized drinks in an evening.  You will have champagne at celebrations.   You will have non-alcoholic beverages available to those who cannot/will not drink and explain to the children and teens, that alcohol is not for everyone.  Older children need to understand appropriate times for drinking and discuss what to do if one finds that alcohol controls them.  Discussing in a matter-of-fact way that there are some people that just cannot drink, just like there are people who cannot walk tightropes because of balance issues, or become bee-keepers because of an allergy.  Not all people can do all things.  Those young people need to be taught their other options and how not to drink in social settings and find lives without alcohol. 

 Parents with alcohol problems or a family history of alcoholism have a responsibility to talk to their children and teens about that history and the genetic influences of alcoholism.  Parents who cannot drink or serve their children alcohol have a responsibly to tell their young teens what normative drinking looks like.  It is a life skill that they may never use, but they need to know… like changing a tire…Dear Mrs. Web has never done it, bless you Triple A… but she knows all the details.

 So, parents who are heavy users and parents who do not use alcohol both have children at risk for heavy drinking as teens and adults as well as alcoholism.  Moderate using parents who are modeling  responsible use of alcohol have children with more control, and less chance of alcoholism in their futures.



Family Loan, Sleeping? Gossipers, and Feeling Guilty


Dear Mrs. Web,


My husband is ill and cannot work.  He has lost his disability and has not qualified for Social Security yet.  Although we were once comfortable, we are now on the edge of financial ruin.  Last year my sister offered us some money but we did not need it then.  I recently asked her to lend us $3000 to cover our taxes.  She has never responded.  My sister and her new husband, although frugal, are wealthy.  I do intend to pay her back.  I realize they have no legal obligation to help me, but do they have a moral obligation?  Should I confront her or let it drop?  Is it unreasonable to feel disappointed (she used to be very generous before she re-married) and angry?  Sadly, I've been giving her the cold shoulder -- I can't seem to help it.


It sounds like she cannot or will not help.  No, they do not have a moral obligation, although it would be nice.  Families that are close usually help each other out.  Those that are not close, do not.  Some people don't want money in the middle of their family relationships.  You have asked, if you wish, you can ask for a clear yes or no. Don’t give your sister the cold shoulder because she doesn’t give you what you want.  I know it is tough going; however, this is your sister and her marriage.  In these times of disconnect, some folks do not realize how important it is to support and help our family members when they fall on difficult days.  Face it; most everyone gets a turn at hard times. For some it is money, for others, deaths and other losses.





Dear Mrs. Web,


I am 20 years old and my boyfriend tells me that he loves me and we are perfect together.  We are both waiting until marriage for sex. Unfortunately, I often wake up because he is touching me inappropriately while I am sleeping.  I confront him about it and we end up fighting.  I don’t know what to do anymore.


 What are you doing in bed with your boyfriend?  Couples and beds equal sex. Expecting bodies not to respond is ridiculous.  Get out of his bed and grow up.  If you are both so perfect together, tie the knot, then you can do all sorts of “inappropriate” things together. 




Dear Mrs. Web,


I am an honest person who keeps the secrets that people tell me.   I have misjudged the character of certain people and told them some very personal things.  Now a lot of people know my secrets and I am embarrassed.  Who can I trust?


Sadly, gossip abounds.  Many people don’t even know that it’s hurtful to repeat secrets.  We live in a gossip-filled culture where everything is game for speculation.  Never tell anyone except your closest family or friend the information you don’t want others to hear.  George Washington once said, Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well-tried before you give them your confidence.  True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the name.”  Smart man!





Dear Mrs. Web,


I know a guy a lot of people didn’t like.  Neither did I.  I was jealous of him.  He was recently killed in a fire.  I know it’s not my fault but I feel horrible because I didn’t like him…and now he is dead.  I feel so bad.


What happened was a tragedy, which happens both to the liked and the disliked.  Send a card to the family and then take stock of what you have learned.  What kind of individual do you want to be?  What kind of character do you want to build?  Jealousy is corrosive to the heart.





Wedding Demands, Dishonesty,

 Baby Shower


Dear Mrs. Web,

I am looking for impartial advice.  My fiancé and I are getting married next month.  We have a four-year old together.  My mother-in-law has always been good, not interfering, or manipulative.  Until now.  She is in charge of the rehearsal dinner and instead of having it catered, she decided to host a barbeque.  I was disappointed but agreed.  My fiancé and I gave her the list of the invitees and now she says that she has family in town, about six people, who she is including at the dinner.  She knows my feelings and is blatantly disregarding them.  I told her to forget about the dinner, I would host it myself in a restaurant.  Now she says that she will not be attending my dinner.  My fiancé and I agree that this OUR wedding and we should be able to have things the way WE want them.  She has no right to dictate to us.  I don’t want my mother in law to walk all over me.  I think I deserve an apology.

I DO think an apology is in order.  I think you should get off your prima-donna high-horse and along with your fiancé, beg your mother-in-law’s pardon for your rudeness.  Imagine telling the hosts whom they can invite.  This is not how honored guests behave.  Just because you are getting married does not mean that the world revolves around you.  Your mother-in-law is not walking all over you; she is getting out of your way. 


Dear Mrs. Web,

A former co-worker called and asked for a favor.  When he was with the company, he (ahem!) “borrowed” some old office equipment from storage.  He now wants me to return it for him.  What should I do?  Put it back?  Inform my boss? 

What will happen to you and to your job if you are caught with stolen merchandise on the premises?  This is your friend’s problem and he needs to deal with it.  Perhaps you can suggest that he sit down with the boss and offer to pay rent on the little-missed equipment. 

Dear Mrs. Web,

My best friend wants to be a singer and she is really good.  I 'm afraid that when we grow up, she might become famous and not remember me.  What do I do?

“When you grow up” is a long time ahead.  The future is not ours to know, so stay in the present, and enjoy your friend.  Perhaps you will become her manager.

Dear Mrs. Web,

My daughter lives out of town, and is expecting her first child.  We would like to give her a baby shower but she cannot attend.  How does one go about giving a baby shower without the mother-to -be present?

You wouldn’t give a birthday party without the birthday girl and you don’t give a baby shower without the mother-to-be.  The best you would be able to do is either import your daughter for the party, or send all the potential shower invitees birth announcements after the fact.



Dear Mrs. Web



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