I'm a divorced-and-remarried mother of two adult children. Both live on their own and have decent jobs.
After the divorce, I managed to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table and provide college for my children. My ex-husband, their father, sporadically paid child support, which resulted in an arrearage owed for the last nine years.
Recently, I received a substantial sum of the balance I was owed for back child support. My dilemma is that my children feel that because their father is having financial problems (finances were always his issue), I should give the money back to him, because I am financially secure.
Abby, they are ignoring everything I had to do to support them while they were still dependents and my responsibility. Add into that their health care, extracurricular activities, Christmases, birthdays, etc., when he said he didn't have money.
I feel I have every right to keep the money. I have told this to my kids, but they are mad at me because I can't seem to get the message across. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
- Flustered in Florida
DEAR FLUSTERED: You were divorced from this man for good reason. Your responsibility to him ended when the divorce was finalized. What you have received for shouldering the entire responsibility for raising your children is yours and yours alone. Do not apologize to anyone for what you prefer to do with the money.
And for your sake, please don't allow yourself to be trapped or guilted into doing anything against your better judgment.
Itching to eliminate her sister's whiskers
I love my sister. She's well-educated, intelligent, and fun, but she has let herself go. We are both in our 60s and, unfortunately, those pesky whiskers are starting to appear on our faces. She recently had surgery, and when I visited her, I noticed a lot of hairs sprouting from her chin. I offered to pluck them or take her to a spa and have them removed when she had a facial. She refused.
My friends and I have made a pact to pluck each other's whiskers if we are ever in a hospital and can't do it ourselves. Should I just let it go or, the next time I see her, remind her that many people would be put off if they saw her? Or is it just me?
- Whiskerless Sister
DEAR WHISKERLESS: It's not "just you." Depilatories are popular because most American women wouldn't want to be caught dead with obvious facial hair.
Your letter brought back memories, one of which was my mother's telling me that her first executive assistant, Katie, had made Mama promise that in the event of Katie's demise, Mama would bring a razor to the viewing and, while standing at the casket, "whisk" off her mustache so no one would see it.
Not knowing your sister, I can't say whether she was in so much pain from her surgery that she didn't want to add to it by being plucked.
Talk to her again when she's feeling better, and she may offer up her chin. If not, love her the way she is - fur and all - because she's happy that way.