Pair’s breakup leads to even split of parenting

Published 8:32 am Friday, August 4, 2023

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DEAR ABBY: Five months ago, my relationship of 10 years ended. I discovered my boyfriend had been unfaithful on more than one occasion. He didn’t want to fix the relationship, and I could no longer take more of his mental and emotional abuse.
My biggest hurdle is our children, who are 3 and 6. I have done everything for them since they were born. My ex and I verbally agreed on a 50-50 schedule, so I have gone from being with them every day to half that time, and I hate it. I miss them terribly when they aren’t with me. My anxiety and worry have skyrocketed.
I want to do what’s best for my kids, and I struggle daily with worrying if what I am doing is best. Is it best for them to be with their dad half the time when he hasn’t been around much these past two years? I have talked to a lawyer, who said it’s up to me since we were never married. Friends and family have told me to give Dad only every other weekend, but is that truly what’s best for them?
I don’t know what to do and feel so lost. It would be easier for me if their dad had only every other weekend. However, this decision isn’t about me. How do I know if what I’m doing is best for my kids? – MOMMY OF TWO IN MINNESOTA

DEAR MOMMY: The answer to your question depends on how involved with the children their father is when they are with him. Does he talk to them, read to them, make sure they are clean, dressed, properly fed and getting enough exercise? Is his home clean and smoke-free? If the answer to any of these questions is no, the children need to be with the parent who will give them not only the best of care, but love them and let them know it every day.
To his credit, your ex appears to be stepping up to the plate. And you are right – this isn’t just about you and your own needs. I applaud you for recognizing it.
DEAR ABBY: A year ago, my landlord asked me to move out of an apartment that I loved. I could no longer afford the rent, so I asked my son if I could live with him. He agreed without hesitation. Two weeks later, I packed up and moved.
At first, it was comfortable, but things started to change when I had emergency open-heart surgery. My granddaughter announced that she was moving in as well. Then here she comes with her boyfriend, expecting him to live there, too. My son refused at first but changed his mind. That’s when the constant screaming started.
Her boyfriend has a bad attitude. He bullies me when nobody is at home. Neither one works. They live on my son’s income. I’m running low on patience and strength. I’m 77. All I would like is to get better and have some peace and quiet. What do I do? Can you advise me? – TRAPPED IN FLORIDA

DEAR TRAPPED: Because the stress is becoming too much for you, explain to your son what is going on when he is absent. Then start looking for an alternative living situation you will be able to manage within your budget. If it means renting a room somewhere rather than an apartment, be prepared to do it. Your health must come first.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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