Looking back, mom regrets children’s unhappy childhood

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

DEAR ABBY: I got pregnant very young and married the father. It was in the ‘60s and things were very different then. I didn’t realize my husband simply did not like children. I attributed it to his being in the Marines, a Vietnam vet, etc. We had never heard of PTSD, but he probably had it. We struggled, and he was very abusive to the children, even when they were small.

After 17 years we divorced, but I feel my children always got a raw deal. Things are so different now. Single women are proud of being unmarried and pregnant. Men are taking a much more active role in caring for their children. Every time I see a father holding, feeding, smiling or interacting with his children I feel such sadness that it was never like that for us. Sometimes I have fantasies where I have taken the children and left. I regret very much that I didn’t.

My first husband is dead now, but I still have these feelings of regret. Would it help to write letters to my children telling them how I feel? I would put the letters away and give them to them either when I feel the time is right, or for them to read after my death. -- REGRETS IN LIFE

DEAR REGRETS: I don’t know how old your children are now, but if they were born in the ‘60s, I assume they are well into their 50s. The time to communicate this to them is NOW. Instead of putting your apologies in a letter, why not say it directly? They probably need to hear it from you. And when you discuss this with them, remind them that at the time they were conceived, it was the era of shotgun weddings, and divorce was less common than it is today.

DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine had to move out of her apartment suddenly about a week ago. She’s leaving the country in a few weeks and plans to look for a new place when she returns. We told her she’s welcome to stay with us until then.

I know this may seem a strange complaint about a houseguest, but she’s TOO polite. She refuses to walk into the house even though I have told her to let herself in or I call out “come in” when she rings the doorbell. Instead, she waits until we answer the door. She asks before using anything or even getting a glass of water.

Abby, if this was a guest we don’t see often coming to visit, of course we’d be happy to attend to the person’s needs or feel obliged to eat meals together. But I consider this to be more of a temporary roommate situation, and I don’t want to feel like we have company every day.

My husband and I work long hours. When we come home from work, we want to be lazy, lie on the sofa and order takeout if neither of us feels like cooking. How do I tell her that while her consideration is appreciated, I really NEED her to relax a bit and make herself at home? -- FRUSTRATED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR FRUSTRATED: The way to tell her is exactly the way you explained it to me -- that because she’s a friend, you want to dispense with the formalities and just relax. And for her to ignore your wishes would be inconsiderate.

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.