DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married five years and are raising four children. One is from my previous relationship, one is from her previous relationship and two are ours. We both have joint custody. My son goes to school near his mom. My wife's son goes to school where we live. They are 9 and 8.
There's a lot of tension between us because my stepson's father isn't the greatest parent. He never comes to school events or sporting events, so he misses half of everything. I regularly attend my son's events, which are a couple of hours away and take time away from my stepson. I put my 9-year-old first because he's my firstborn, and I have him less. My wife disagrees with this, and we fight about it constantly. I believe I am doing the right thing. Advice, please. — WONDERING IN WISCONSIN
DEAR WONDERING: I'm sorry your wife's son's father hasn't stepped up to the plate. But please do not allow your wife to interfere with your relationship with your son. You ARE doing the right thing by showing an interest in what he's doing and supporting him emotionally.
DEAR ABBY: I have been married nine years. My husband doesn't allow me to leave the house without him. He makes sure I don't have a car or access to the one we have. He tells me he doesn't mean anything by it, but if I try to take a walk alone, he is right on my heels.
If I go anywhere with my sister or a friend, I must wait until he is gone. If he gets home before I do, he's sitting on the porch waiting for me. He is not physically abusive, but I feel like a prisoner. I have told him several times how it makes me feel, but he doesn't seem to get it. I really need some advice. — TRAPPED IN GEORGIA
DEAR TRAPPED: Your husband doesn't get it because he doesn't WANT to. What he is doing is NOT a demonstration of love or concern for your safety. It's an example of his own insecurity and need to control you. This is a big red flag, and my advice is to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline and discuss this with someone there because what's happening could escalate into abuse. The toll-free phone number is: (800) 799-7233.
DEAR ABBY: I love my grown children and grandchildren, but I hate it when they come "home" for a week or more. My house gets turned upside down and inside out, and I end up losing my temper. Then I feel like an awful mother. I suggested we all meet somewhere else, but it didn't go over well. Help! — INVADED IN NORTH DAKOTA
DEAR INVADED: Your suggestion may not have gone over well with your children and grandchildren, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't "suggest" it again. And when you do, make sure they understand you are saying it because when they visit they leave your home in disarray, which creates more work for you than you are comfortable doing. Unless they are willing to make sure your home is as neat when they leave as when they arrived, enough is enough.
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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.