My father is expecting his seventh child with his current “fiancee.” I am the oldest of six girls; this child is expected to be a son. His fiancee is 11 years my junior -- 33 years younger than my father. I recently started a family and have two children under the age of 2. For various reasons, I am fed up with playing nice regarding my father’s relationships and irresponsible behavior. They are having a baby shower for the expectant parents, and I don’t want to attend. My husband thinks I am wrong because I can’t muster up the spirit that a baby shower is supposed to evoke. I think I’m being smart for not bringing my funky attitude. Should I attend? -- OLDEST CHILD
DEAR OLDEST: I don’t know how your siblings feel about this impending birth, but try to remember that showers are intended to celebrate the new life that’s coming into the world. This isn’t about whether you approve of your father’s behavior or his choice of women. If he is as irresponsible as you say, that poor little boy will need all the help and emotional support he can get in the future. If you opt not to attend, it may drive a wedge between you and your father, so I’m voting with your husband. Go with your siblings, be pleasant and leave your funky attitude at home, because if you don’t, the person you will be isolating is yourself.
Dear Abby: What is it with people? My mother-in-law, “Ellen,” passed away last Thursday. Even before her viewing a neighbor informed us -- through Ellen’s attorney -- that Ellen had given her a wicker patio set that the neighbor hadn’t taken, but had told Ellen to use as long as she wanted. Then at the church, before the funeral service, another friend told us Ellen had intended to donate some used items to a charity, implying that we are obligated to do the same. Don’t people have manners any longer? -- OFFENDED IN OHIO
DEAR OFFENDED: Your letter illustrates why it is so important for everyone to put their wishes in writing before departing. While I agree with you that the timing was insensitive, the people involved may have wanted to be sure you were aware of Ellen’s intentions before you disposed of the items. Before distributing any of your mother-in-law’s effects, this is something you should first discuss with her lawyer.
Dear Abby: As a young adult in my early 20s, I’ve been experiencing some pretty big changes in my life, including (after some major research and internal debate) the decision to convert to a different religion. However, something is preventing me from following through: I have an anxiety disorder that makes being in new situations and places I’m unfamiliar with extremely daunting. I’m not having second thoughts about my choice by any means. I am just at a loss about where I should start and what I need to do. Any advice is welcomed. -- ANXIOUS CONVERT IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR ANXIOUS: Visit the church, temple or mosque you wish to join and share your concerns with the priest, minister, rabbi or imam. If you do, that person can see you are introduced around and ease your way into the religious community.
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.