Single mother wonders if working so much is right

DEAR ABBY: I'm 29. I had a son six years ago and left my ex because he didn't want to be a father. He chose to party instead. I had to file a name change for my son, and custody was hard to fight for because the father refused to show up.

Since then, I've worked two and sometimes three jobs just to stay ahead. My child hardly sees me. I work so much that my son has stopped calling me "Mommy" and instead calls me by my name. I feel hopeless and that I'm working for nothing. Have I made a mistake working so much?

- Mommy in Maryland

DEAR MOMMY: If you are working those long hours in order to pay your bills, you are doing what a parent is supposed to do - providing for your child. Because your ex isn't doing his share, get on the internet and research "child support for single mothers." Resources are available to help you.

As to your son no longer calling you "Mommy," I would have to ask where he got the idea he would call you anything else. (Have you asked him?) Rather than accept it, make clear that he has only one mommy, you are it, and you will not tolerate being called anything else.

Partner has trouble talking things out

DEAR ABBY: I've been seeing someone for six or seven months, but we have been together for only three. He's quite the package, except he can't handle confrontation and doesn't communicate well. His way of handling uncomfortable conversations is to avoid them, while I, on the other hand, tend to be very communicative.

Is there a way for both of us to be happy when dealing with difficult conversations? Is there anything I can do to make him more comfortable with them? I should add that he hasn't been in a relationship in forever. I'm happy with him, but communication is important to me.

- Verbal in the West

DEAR VERBAL: Has it occurred to you that this man may not have been in a relationship "in forever" BECAUSE he can't deal with uncomfortable conversations? For many women, that would be a deal-breaker.

While not all men are comfortable with long, heartfelt conversations, the only way to arrive at a compromise is to talk with each other. Give him more time because your relationship is still new. But if he isn't capable of opening up, recognize it as an important red flag if you are contemplating a long relationship with him.

Replacing a bike

stolen at their home?

DEAR ABBY: My son's best friend's bike was stolen from our front yard, and I feel terrible about it. Up to this point, he had been careful to put it in our garage or by our front door when he came over.

It was new, and I want to offer to help pay for a new one if we don't find it. My husband disagrees. I know the child's parents don't expect it, but I feel it's the right thing to do.

- Feeling guilty in Texas

DEAR FEELING GUILTY: While it would be generous to offer to help pay for the bike, you should not feel obligated or guilty because you did nothing wrong. One can only hope the boy has learned an important lesson from what happened.

In the future, he will make sure his bike is safely parked inside your garage and not out where a thief can snatch it.

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