DEAR ABBY: How do I deal with guests and friends who make unfortunate remarks about personal items in my home?
For example, I have a favorite picture of a woman sitting at a table. A friend commented, “Oh, we used to call her Mrs. Potato Head.” About my beautiful hand-woven table runner depicting sliced fruit, one guest said, “Oh, they look like a woman’s privates!”
I also display a beautiful statue of the Three Graces that I inherited from my beloved mother. Another friend piped up, “Oh, the three lesbians!” They stole my enjoyment from the pieces. I can no longer look at these treasures without being reminded of those stupid, thoughtless remarks, so I had to get rid of them.
What do I do if this happens again or how do I prevent it? – PRIDE OF OWNERSHIP IN MAINE
DEAR PRIDE: No one should feel compelled to get rid of loved ones because someone makes a thoughtless remark. If you do get rid of something, consider breaking up with the people who made those comments (probably in a failed attempt to be funny). If you do that, you’ll have to muzzle lesser acquaintances.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have raised our 5 year old grandson “Kent” since he was a baby. His mother, my daughter, was in his life but decided to leave him with us for six months, after which we hired a lawyer to seek custody of him. His mother has been gone from his life for two years.
There is no relationship between them at all. Kent calls me “Mom” now, and I don’t know if it’s a good idea for him to call me that. He has a mother, but doesn’t remember her at all. He has no idea that I’m not his biological mother. What should I do? – HE ONLY KNOWS MOM
DEAR ONLY MOM: Kent calls you “Mom,” of course. It’s the role you’ve played since he was a child. 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 way that your daughter felt she would be better off in your care. Then fill in more information as needed, which would be better than presenting him the whole story at once.
DEAR ABBY: I am divorced and have two kids in college. I work as an assistant. My friend, a mechanic, has an auto repair shop. He charges me a fee every time I take my car (which is 14 years old) for repairs or an oil change.
Friends at work tell me not to charge me. I’m confused. What do you think? — HAVE TO PAY IN NEW YORK
DEAR HAS TO PAY: I’m glad you asked. If you bring your car in for an oil change or repair, you should reimburse your friend for the oil and parts. Because of your close personal relationship, a loving friend might choose to give you a break from labor, but that’s up to them—and it’s up to you if they remain your friend!