Dear Abby

Abigail Van Buren


I met a young couple about a year ago. They invite me out for lunch every few months. They have several children they allow to run all over the place, climb over and under the table, cry and whine, and they make no effort to teach them proper behavior in restaurants. It’s so annoying and embarrassing that I no longer want to go out with them. I cannot believe that they turn their children loose in restaurants without acknowledging that they are creating a not-so-nice experience for other diners.

If they ask me why, should I make up an excuse or tell them how I feel about their lack of parenting? I suspect they will be hypersensitive to any remarks I make, but I can’t enjoy my meal while their children run wild. Those children need to learn some manners. I would rather eat out by myself than experience another episode.



Rather than let these parents have it with both barrels, the next time you are invited to lunch, ask if the children will be included. When they tell you the kids are coming — which they will — respond that you would prefer “adult time.” It would get your message across without it appearing you are criticizing their parental abilities.


I am 49. I have never married or had kids, and I am having a hard time finding the right woman for me. I have tried dating sites, dances, etc., and it seems like women are not interested in a gentleman anymore. I am about to give up on women because I don’t know what else to do. They like the bad-boy type, and I’m not one of them.

I should mention that 25 years ago I thought I had found the right one, but I caught her cheating on me. Now women reject me. They always have an excuse. They say either, “You are not my type” or, “I just want to be friends.” Can you help me?



I’ll try. When a woman tells you you’re not her type or she just wants to be friends, what she’s trying to politely convey is that the romantic chemistry is wrong. Having never met you, I can’t guess why that might be. Perhaps some of your close friends or family members could tell you if you need an image makeover.

I will, however, offer this,

Younger women are usually the ones who are attracted to the “excitement” (stress) that bad boys provide in abundance. Older ones would welcome a man with more traditional values and who treats them well. In other words, you may be fishing in the wrong pond.


My wife and I disagree about what a comforter is for. She says a comforter is decorative and should not be used as a blanket; I say it’s OK to use it as a blanket. She says I was never taught that it’s for decoration only. Is she right?



Your wife is mistaken. Many people use their bedspreads and comforters as blankets. The main difference between them is a comforter is more insulated and offers more warmth. According to a leading online retailer, a bedspread is defined as “a lightweight, decorative bed covering that can be used in warm weather or as a decorative addition to a comforter in cold weather.”

Deepening dementia causes awkward social situations


During the past year, my wonderful father-in-law was widowed and became unable to live alone. He lives with us now and is part of our daily life. However, he has dementia. He is still quite social and verbal. If you met him, you might not realize that his short-term memory rarely functions or that the filters this well-educated and proper man once had no longer work 24/7.

Recently, he has started ogling women and making comments about their physical attributes when we go grocery shopping or take a walk. He is also starting to confuse the women’s roles in our household (me, my daughter, daughter-in-law and niece), which has become even more awkward. My daughter confided that he made a sexual comment about me. (I’m a middle-aged, no-nonsense kind of woman.)

How does one approach such a situation? We don’t want someone slapping him — or worse. I can say, “That’s not appropriate,” then deflect or laugh it off at home, knowing he won’t remember what he said 20 minutes later, but how do we make the best of these circumstances without diminishing his outside social experiences? Moving him to a senior living community is not an option at this point for financial reasons.



It’s time for you to contact the Alzheimer’s Association. It offers guidance for caregivers like you. Changes in behavior caused by Alzheimer’s and other dementias are challenging. It’s important to remember that these behaviors are the result of a damaged brain and not something the person is doing purposely.

If inappropriate behavior occurs in public, be consistent and kind, but firmly remind the person that the behavior is not OK. It may help to distract the person from the immediate situation by directing their attention elsewhere or giving them something else to do.

Caregivers can create “business cards” stating briefly, “My companion has dementia. Please be understanding.” Caregivers would give these to hosts and hostesses when entering restaurants, or discreetly hand them to salespeople if situations start to deteriorate because the companion exhibits unusual behavior or lack of a verbal filter.

Be transparent with family and friends about the person with the disease. When they understand what’s causing these behaviors and that the individual needs their help and compassion, they tend to be less reactive or judgmental. The Alzheimer’s Association may be reached online ( or via the toll-free helpline (800-272-3900). Please don’t wait.


I’m a teen living with a foot in each world. My parents are religious and don’t approve of my sexuality (I am bisexual), and my peers harshly stereotype my beliefs. I feel rejected by both worlds, and I’m trying to make it until I’m 18 so I can leave the situation.

Lately, things have taken a turn for the worse. Both sides won’t accept me until I am completely Christian or completely not Christian. Is there any advice you can give me?



Just this. You are a teenager. There are better days ahead for you. Your current circumstances may be unpleasant, but they won’t last forever. If living your truth will result in your being shunned, do whatever you must to survive for now.

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