Dear Abby • Our son married a psychotherapist who is very controlling. From the beginning, she did not like me, which was obvious from her words and actions. She has convinced our son that I was a bad mother, and he hasn’t spoken to me in more than four years. He also shuns every other member of our family.
We are heartbroken. We were a close family until she came into the picture, but my son allowed her to ruin it. I have tried to keep in touch with him, but he never replies. I have also talked to a therapist with no success. They and her family have blocked me from contacting them. I’m unable to accept this situation because my family and I love my son so much. Please help me. — Distraught Mother in West Virginia
Dear Mother • I will try, but it won’t be easy. I know you are heartbroken, but you are going to have to find a way to accept and grieve the loss of your son. This may take the help of another licensed psychotherapist or your spiritual counselor to help you come to terms with a painful situation that cannot be repaired. Please accept my sympathy for your loss.
Dear Abby • Do you have any recommendations for how to deal with guests who show up with their pets? My husband’s sister and her husband have two Belgian Malinois shepherd dogs. The last time we invited them to dinner six years ago (a two-hour drive), they brought along an aging greyhound “because he was an old dog.” The dog stayed in their van (the weather was mild), and her husband took it for a walk a couple times.
Our yard is not fenced, and I do not want dogs in my house. My sister-in-law, who is oblivious to other people’s wishes, “wonders” why she hasn’t been invited to visit again. We would invite them to dinner again, but I don’t want to deal with the dogs. Advice? — Dogged in Delaware
Dear Dogged • If she raises the subject, be honest with her. Tell her the invitation is open any time they wish, providing they leave their dogs at home. If she wants to know why, that’s the time to explain that you do not want animals in your house, your yard isn’t fenced and you think it is cruel to leave them sitting in a car for an extended period of time, which would make their visit less enjoyable for you. It’s the truth.
Dear Abby • My mother belongs to a book club and passes most of these hardback bestsellers on to me. Before the pandemic, I donated them to the library to be sold. However, since the pandemic, the library is no longer accepting donations, and the books are piling up. I’d like to see them go to people who are interested and will enjoy them. My dilemma is what to do now. Have you any suggestions for me on where to donate these books? — Avid Reader in Texas
Dear Reader • Contact a charity thrift store and ask if they will accept the books. You could also post an ad on one of the neighborhood sites and offer them there. Also, check if your community has a “Little Free Library” — a small, locally run book exchange that pops up on sidewalks in some neighborhoods. Or hang onto them a while longer, keeping in mind the library may start accepting them again post-pandemic.
Dear Abby • Should aging parents have to pay their children to take them to appointments or elsewhere? — Wondering Parent
Dear Wondering Parent • I’m guessing you and your spouse did plenty of “chauffeuring” before your children had driver’s licenses. The “child” who suggested it should be ashamed of themself.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.