DEAR ABBY: I am a 40-year-old childless single woman. I spent several years doing various day-care jobs and have great love for children, but due to female health issues, I am unable to have my own. I have a great job and home, but cannot afford fertility treatments or adoption, both of which are expensive.
My fertility issues have caused me heartbreak and many tears. My father often comments about how disappointed he is that he has no grandchildren. Recently, he made an offhand remark that I was "selfish" for not having had any. It upset me so much, I cried for days. Dad is a good man, and I know he didn't mean to be hurtful.
How do I approach him about how his comment affected me without hurting him? I don't know how much detail to give him about my fertility issues. Should I just let it be and ignore him when he complains about not having grandkids?
- Childless in Idaho
DEAR CHILDLESS: Do not ignore this. Tell your father that you are unable to conceive because of a medical problem and exactly how his comment made you feel. You should also tell him you are unable to afford fertility treatments or adoption because of the cost. And tell him not to raise the subject again because it is hurtful and beyond your ability to remedy. Perhaps you could channel your motherly instincts by exploring foster care and other ways to help children in need.
Husband who strayed now wants to reconcile
DEAR ABBY: My husband left me for another woman four months ago. We had been married for 33 years, and my world has been ripped apart.
Now he says he wants to try to reconcile, and it has me feeling extremely confused. While I still love him, I know our relationship will never be the same as before. Will I look like a fool to everyone if I let him come home?
- Heartbroken in Pennsylvania
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: How you look to "everyone" is far less important than how you feel. You are correct that if you reconcile, your relationship will never be the same. But has it occurred to you that it might be better?
Husbands stray for all kinds of reasons. Before you make any final decisions about taking him back, insist on counseling so you can understand exactly what they were. That's how broken marriages are repaired.
Second cousin caught in family drama
DEAR ABBY: I had been friends with both of my second cousins, "Tom" and "Jane," a brother and sister in their 60s. They have long been estranged from each other. Tom was estranged from his parents as well. Jane was their parents' caregiver.
Jane called me to say their father was near death and thought I would want to know.
Then she said, "I'm not telling Tom, and I'm asking you to do the same." I told her it was an awkward request because I am friendly with him, too.
Well, I chose to tell him. Tom called his mother, and it went well after years of no communication. Jane has now cut me out of her life. Was I wrong to tell her brother?
- Mike in Mexico
DEAR MIKE: Yes, I think it was wrong to have gone against the wishes of the daughter who had assumed the responsibility of caring for her aged parents.
It's fortunate that the conversation went well, because it might not have.