DEAR ABBY: My 15-year-old granddaughter has lived for the past several years in an environment with adults who have done drugs, can’t or won’t keep a job and are in and out of jail. I want her to have a better life, and I try to explain what a responsible adult life looks like. But when I do, she accuses me of being judgmental and nonaccepting because these people are “nice.” How can I get her to understand that the lifestyle she’s exposed to isn’t good without coming off as judgmental?
— AT A LOSS FOR WORDS
DEAR AT A LOSS: The lessons we teach others don’t always have to be verbal. One way would be to expose your granddaughter — as often as possible — to people who have chosen a different way of life and are reaping the rewards for it. Perhaps then she will begin to draw her own conclusions and realize that she can have a different life if she’s willing to work toward it.
DEAR ABBY: My ex-fiance decided to leave our relationship and our 10-month-old son, “Nicky,” about a month ago. He sees Nicky regularly and is a good father. I know our relationship is over and that it’s not going to be fixed. To be honest, when he left, I was relieved.
The other day, I suggested to my ex that maybe once a month we take our son out together to do something, like go to the park or the zoo. My reasoning is that Nicky needs to know that even though his mom and dad are no longer together, we can still get along. His response was he didn’t think it was a good idea. He doesn’t want our son to get the wrong impression. I just said “OK” and left it alone.
Is he right? Would it confuse our son, or is he being selfish? It seems unrealistic to me that we will never do anything together. My son is my No. 1 priority, and I just want to handle it the best that I can for him. Please help me.
— CONFUSED IN SANTA MARIA, CALIF.
DEAR CONFUSED: Your ex may have said what he did because he doesn’t understand that you have accepted that the romance is really over. Don’t accuse him of being selfish. Be patient. In the future, Nicky will understand that, although Mom and Dad are not together, they get along, if you truly DO get along. As Nicky grows older, there will be events such as birthdays, sporting events, graduations, etc., you will probably wind up enjoying together — or eventually with significant others or spouses included.
— Andrews McMeel