DEAR ABBY: I am very close to my 19-year-old son. He is kind, sweet and big-hearted. He has learning disabilities and the maturity level of probably a 15- or 16-year-old. Naturally, I am protective of him. He had one girlfriend during his senior year, and when they broke up after four months, he was beyond devastated. Since then he constantly talks about how lonely he is and his desire to be in a relationship.
About a week ago, he told me he likes a woman from his work. They went out on a couple of dates and, come to find out, she’s 33 and has three kids (9, 7 and 8 months old). He told me she asked him if he wanted to be in a serious relationship or just be friends with benefits. He told her he wanted something serious, and I guess she agreed.
Abby, this woman is taking advantage of my son! What would a woman that age want with a kid? This is a complicated nightmare, and I do not want my son involved with her. I’m convinced she’s using him, and once she is over it, she will break his heart. It took him a long time to get over his high school sweetheart, and I was seriously worried about his mental well-being. Is there anything I can do to stop this train wreck?
I have talked to him about my concerns, but it didn’t accomplish anything. I told him I want to meet her, and they agreed. I’m nervous because I know I need to refrain from telling her how I really feel. Any suggestions? — PROTECTIVE MOM
DEAR MOM: Not all romances are guaranteed to last, as most adults find out after they enter the dating scene. At 19 — learning disabilities or not — your son is considered to be an adult. Part of becoming one is experiencing life with all of its joys and disappointments.
You cannot protect your son from sadness or predict how his relationships will turn out. Let him know that you are supportive of him always. Then, when you meet this woman, be warm and befriend her. Get to know her so you can communicate with her without her becoming defensive. You will gain nothing by seeming hostile.
DEAR ABBY: About 12 years ago, I found out my dad isn’t really my father. It didn’t change how I felt about him, and I wasn’t interested in meeting my biological father.
Dad died a couple of weeks ago. During the memorial service, I ended my emotional tribute to him by saying that even though he wasn’t my bio father, he was still my “Dad,” and the love and memories I have of him mean more than any blood ties to my bio father.
My brother and one of my sisters had no problem with me saying this. My other sister, however, was very upset with me. She said letting church members know he wasn’t my bio father was disrespectful. She was the only one who criticized me. Was I disrespectful, and was my sister correct in chastising me? — LOVED MY DAD
DEAR LOVED: The eulogy you gave for your dad was beautiful, and it came from the heart. It was in no way disrespectful and you did nothing wrong. Your sister should not have criticized you the way she did, but when there is a death in the family, emotions sometimes run high.