DEAR ABBY: My 40-year-old son has been in a volatile on-again, off-again relationship with a woman who has physically and emotionally abused him repeatedly. He's an Iraq War veteran with issues of his own, including a previous marriage and messy divorce from a narcissistic woman.
The current woman has grown children, plus a pre-teen boy (with issues also). The last time they split up, my husband made it clear that she would never be welcome in our home again because of her violent temper,
Our son has now decided he thinks he "loves her." He wants us to give our blessing, including having her in our home and being one big happy family.
Abby, we want our son to be happy, but we recognize that a leopard doesn't change her spots. We also don't want our young grandchildren in a toxic environment again. What should we do? -- SEEING CLEARLY IN NEW YORK
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DEAR SEEING: When you stated that your son is asking you for your blessing, including having this woman in your home and being one big happy family, did he mean LIVING there with you? If that's not the case, you can bless it, but your answer should be no if it means they will live under your roof.
DEAR ABBY: This may seem like a trivial problem, but it has our little group of friends on the verge of breaking up. We meet monthly. There are seven of us.
Two of them don't want to exchange birthday presents when one or two of us have a birthday because they say they can't afford it. By the way, their lifestyle is quite lavish. The rest of us enjoy giving small gifts (and they are small -- less than $10), or a gift card for the restaurant we are meeting at that night. We have told them a card is fine.
They are now threatening to stop coming unless we stop giving gifts because it makes them feel bad. It seems like they don't want to make the effort, and we feel like we are being held hostage. We love these ladies and don't want them to stop coming. Christmas is approaching, and five of us want to exchange presents, but they don't. -- TRADITIONALIST IN FLORIDA
DEAR TRADITIONALIST: Because these ladies are uncomfortable with the idea of exchanging gifts on special occasions, they should be told their presence is not expected when those exchanges happen -- specifically Christmas, birthdays, etc. There will still be plenty of other times to get together -- and that way no one will be uncomfortable.