Dear Abby: I could use some advice on the best response to my 89-yearold father’s letters. He cleverly inserts insults into them without writing anything for which he could be criticized.
For example, he has always talked about how he hates fat people. I am very overweight. My father sends me letters talking about how fit and trim another relative is who had just visited. That’s all he says about them, and it’s all he writes to me about. I can certainly read between the lines.
This isn’t a one-time thing, just one example. I knowmy father will never change. He was abusive to me, my siblings andmy mother. I see these letters as another way for him to continue his abuse, so I ignore them. Could you recommend a response other than silence? — READING INTO IT IN ILLINOIS
Dear Reading Into It:
As a matter of fact, I can. Write him back and say something like this:
“Dear Dad, youmay have been wondering why I don’t respond to your letters. They contain nothing more than comparisons to other relatives who are skinnier and more fit than I am, and frankly, I find them painful to read. I amnot writing this as a criticism of you, but only so you will understand my silence.
“Your Daughter ‘Judy’”
You do not have to talk to him. This should get yourmessage across.
Dear Abby: I have a friend who is divorced and struggling financially, but doesn’t work other than sporadic petsitting jobs. I enjoy her company and we have a lot in common, but when we go on outings together, she expects me to drive and pay for her drinks and food if she doesn’t have enough money. She doesn’t own a credit card.
I’mstarting to feel resentful and like I’m being taken advantage of. She thanks me sometimes, but I think she feels that because I amfinancially comfortable and she isn’t, I should be a good friend and help her out. I really want to discuss the situation with her, but I am afraid of coming across as stingy and uncaring. What are your thoughts? — USED IN ALABAMA
DearUsed: It would be neither stingy nor uncaring to ask before making a date to go out together whether she has the money to pay her way. If the answer is no, suggest doing something that doesn’t involve money.