DEAR ABBY: I am a 29-year-old man with a criminal record. I got involved in some fraud and embezzlement rings when I was in my early 20s, and served nine months before being released on parole.
Since then I have moved in with my mother, found a job, and I have reached the point where I'd like to begin dating again.
The problem is, I don't know when the time is right to bring up my past. If I wait too long, my name is mud for not saying anything sooner. I want to do the right thing so I can stay on the right path. Can you help me?
- A Better Man in New York
DEAR BETTER MAN: I agree that the chapter of your life in which you were in prison is not something you should reveal on a first date. But do raise the subject around the fourth date, because by then the woman will have had a chance to get to know you.
If she likes you, she'll hear you out and understand that you don't plan to repeat your past mistakes.
DEAR ABBY: I am blessed with two beautiful daughters. One is 13; the other is 4 months old. For 11 years my 13-year-old, "Lily," was my life. I had dated, but they were all Mr. Wrongs.
Two years ago, I finally met a wonderful man, "Kevin." He is good to me, and he and Lily get along to a point, but he's shy and doesn't talk much. Kevin moved in with us a few months after I found out I was pregnant.
I try to include Lily in our new family, but she feels left out. She stays in her room and doesn't have much to do with Kevin.
What can I do to assure Lily that I love her as much as I always have? I hope to eventually marry Kevin. Lily's dad isn't very involved in her life. Help, please.
- West Virginia Mom
DEAR MOM: You will have to be more proactive to make this arrangement function more like a family. Kevin may be shy, but he should be encouraged to make more of an effort to get to know Lily. Also, Lily should not be allowed to hide out in her room. If you run out of ideas, a family therapist may be needed.