Q:I have waited 36 years to marry. Most would say I was the quintessential bachelor. When I was younger, I never thought I'd date anyone with a child. I didn't want to deal with the "baggage" I thought came with dating a single mother.
Needless to say, I have been dating a delightful woman who has a 4-year-old son with whom I get along great. We've dated for a year and a half, I love her, and it's time I propose.
The three of us are a little team, and I'm wondering, when I ask her to marry me, should I involve her son and buy something for him - and if so, what? I was thinking of a custom-made charm for a chain (remember, he's only 4). I would like it to be something he can keep with him the rest of his life. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
Bachelor in Dover, N.H.
A: Your sentiments are endearing. Because you are a "team," it would be wonderful to involve the child in the proposal. You might include him in the "surprise" for his mother, or even propose becoming a family to both of them.
However, at 4, the boy is too young to entrust with a piece of expensive jewelry - and by the time he would be old enough to wear and appreciate it, a charm might not be in fashion, so I don't recommend it. The promise of your love and support is gift enough.
Easing her pain
Q: My wife, "Yvonne," has been struggling with a painful issue most of her adult life. Her parents show no interest in her. This has been the case since she was young. Yvonne has continually reached out to them without success. Her mother calls maybe once a year and never sends anything for her birthday or Christmas. Her father is pretty much nonexistent.
This has been affecting my wife more and more as she gets older. She's 29 and a wonderful mother and wife, but every time she sees a mother and daughter spending time together on TV or in public, it makes her very sad. She always comments that she wishes she was like that with her mother. I have tried to console her the best I can, but it doesn't help much. What can I do to help her overcome this?
Hurts for My Wife in Warren, Mich.
A: It appears you're doing all you can, but filling this hole in your wife's heart is more than a "civilian" can accomplish.
She may need the help of a psychologist in order to repair the damage caused by herparents' neglect. Please suggest it to her because yourwife may be more resilient than she thinks. I say this because she has been able to be an effective mother even though she had a poor role model to follow.
Call him what he is
Q: I just found out that my mother has become engaged. I don't have a problem with it except for the fact that her fiance, "Harry," is younger than my brothers and me.
My father has passed away, and I do not intend to call Harry anything other than his first name. When I refer to him in conversation, should I call him my stepfather or my mother's husband?
"Stepchild" in Virginia
A: You are all adults. Therefore I see nothing disrespectful in referring to Harry as your mother's husband. That's what he will be.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips. Find columns at www.dearabby.com.
Universal Press Syndicate