Dear Annie: I am a teenager, but in a few years, I will be away at college.
I am concerned, however, because Mom has a boyfriend with a major anger problem, and he throws tantrums and gets abusive.
Mom has been in this relationship for a few years, and I’m afraid when I leave he will do some serious damage and I won’t be there to protect her. She has been going to therapy, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. I love my mother very much and want the best for her. How can I convince her to get away from this man? — Concerned Daughter
Dear Concerned: It is very difficult for some women to get out of an abusive relationship, and the longer they are involved, the more they believe they deserve to be treated poorly. It’s good that Mom is getting therapy. She obviously needs it, and we hope it will help her find a way out. We know you are worried about her, but you are not responsible for her choices. If you witness this man being physically abusive to your mother or if he should come after you, call the police immediately. You also can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (ndvh.org) at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) and ask if there is anything more you can do.
Dear Annie: Something unacceptable is happening with two different casual friends. One is a man whose wife is in a nursing home with dementia. The other is a woman whose husband is in a nursing home after a debilitating stroke. The spouses are “dating.”
The man has no children and is fairly low-key with his activities. The woman, however, is like a lovesick puppy. Her children are teenagers, and they seem uncomfortable with the situation.
I know she is lonely, and I feel sorry for her, but frankly, I am embarrassed to be her friend.
Another friend tried to talk to her about this, but she is too “in love” to listen to reason. I know I should MMOB and I am, but what is your opinion? Maybe I’m just playing by an old-fashioned rule book. — Momma Do-Rite
Dear Momma: As long as the husbands and wives are taking care of their nursing-home spouses and visiting often, we have no objection to their spending an evening out with a friend.
We concur, however, that it is inappropriate for this couple to flaunt a love affair, especially since there are children involved.
However, you are a “casual friend,” so you need to keep out of it.
Dear Annie: As an ex-wife who was married for 30 years, I disagree with your response to “Just Curious,” who asked if she should attend her ex-husband’s funeral.
You also referred to the new wife as the “stepmother.” If the new wife helped raised young children from the first marriage, then she is their stepmother.
But if they were grown up when Dad remarried, as mine were, she is simply Dad’s wife.
These children have a mother and she is still alive. My children refer to their father’s wife as just that and call her by her first name.
If she was married to this man and bore his children, there is a long and serious connection, and she should be able to attend the funeral. If my ex-husband dies before me, I plan to attend. Out of respect for his present wife, I will be as inconspicuous as possible and stay in the rear of the church. But I intend to be there not only for myself, but to help my children and grandchildren through that time. — Loving Mother
Dear Mother: The word “stepmother” refers to the woman Dad has married, whether you like it or not. The restriction on ex-wives attending the funeral is if your presence will cause a disruption and make the widow stressed. If you are certain you can avoid that, and your children want you there, it’s OK to go.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.