Dear Annie: I have been married to Sarah for nine years. We have two young sons, both with developmental problems.
When I met Sarah, she had an older son, “Del,” who was in the temporary custody of her father's cousins. The cousins have raised the boy since he was 6 months old. He is now 13 and understands that our sons are his half-brothers. His biological father gets him on occasional weekends, and he always has had regular contact with Sarah and her parents.
The cousins are good people. Del calls them “Mom and Dad.” But they are in their late 50s and not in the best of health. Their financial situation is also not as good as ours. They also have an adopted daughter who is 14. The girl was raped by a babysitter two years ago. Then, six months later, she accused her dad of rape. My wife believes the girl said this for attention, and although I agree that the dad doesn't seem capable of such a thing, it worries me.
Sarah never gave up legal custody of Del. I really love the boy and enjoy spending time with him. He lives nearby and rides his bike to our place frequently. Del has asked questions about living with us, but Sarah says she could never take him away from his parents. What is the right thing to do?
-- Confused in Pennsylvania
Dear Confused: We commend you for wanting to take this boy, but we suspect Sarah feels overwhelmed raising two children with developmental problems and is afraid to add a third child who is entering adolescence. Has there been an investigation of the alleged rape? If the charges are unfounded, it could indicate that the daughter is unstable, which also is not a great environment for Del. And examine your own motives — perhaps you feel attached to Del because he is more like the son you wish you had.
Talk to Sarah about having Del at your home more often. See how he interacts with his half-siblings and how Sarah responds to him. We recommend you look into family counseling.
Dear Annie: Whenever my wife and I go to the movies, it seems there's at least a 50 percent chance that someone will be chatting throughout the film. I find this profoundly distracting. I get so angry, but I'm not sure what to say. What magic words would you advise I use?
Dear B.B.: There is no magic that will make a rude person less so. A glare often does the trick, but you also could politely whisper, “I'm sure you don't mean to disturb everyone. Could you please talk when the movie is over?” You also could find an usher, but that necessitates missing part of the movie. If they don't pipe down, be sure to complain to the management afterward.
Dear Annie: I have a response to the letter from “N.Y.,” the 35-year-old man who thinks his mom is being controlling because she throws her arm across his chest when they come to a sudden stop in the car.
I, too, am in my 30s, and when I go somewhere with my friend, she does the same thing. You know what? We laugh. It's such a natural instinct to do this in an effort to protect people you love. I do the same thing myself when I drive my aunt, who is in her 50s.
“N.Y.” needs to get a grip
-- Well-Protected in California
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