Dear Abby: How old does a child have to be before she is able to choose a relative to live with? I'm the one my granddaughter wants to stay with. Her home life is in turmoil because of her parents' nasty divorce.
Ever since her mother (my daughter) found out my granddaughter wants to live with me, she has forbidden her to talk to me, and me to contact her. Her mother is depressed and angry, but won't seek counseling. She doesn't talk to me unless it's to say ugly things.
My granddaughter said her mother never smiles anymore. We are very close and this hurts my heart. She's a good girl and should be able to be happy.
We live several hours away, and are more than willing to have her. She already has a room here, and our home is never happier than when she's visiting.
We haven't spoken to her in months, and we really miss her. Her younger sibling gets most of the positive attention, while she receives mostly negative attention. I have seen this happen many times. She tries so hard to please her mom. I don't know what to do to help her. — Heartbroken in Oklahoma
Dear Heartbroken: It would have been helpful if you had mentioned why your daughter is angry with you and is preventing your grandchild from contacting you and vice versa. If she's in such bad shape that it is negatively affecting your granddaughter, your questions should be addressed to a lawyer.
If your granddaughter is in her teens, she might be considered mature enough to ask to live with a relative other than her mother. If not, and her mother's hostility is affecting her schoolwork, a trusted teacher or counselor at school might be able to see she gets the emotional support she needs.
Dear Abby: My husband is very outgoing. He loves chatting on the phone for hours, and talks with all the neighbors up and down the street. He's retired, so it's fine — up to a point.
We have a set time for dinner, which is 6:30, and he knows it. Invariably he'll be on the phone or up the street when it's close to dinner. I always remind him 10 to 15 minutes ahead, which gives him time to be here to eat, but he'll keep chatting until he's anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour late to dinner.
I put time and effort into preparing my meals. I grow my own vegetables and think of creative things to fix. He always comments how great the meals are, so it's not that he doesn't like my food. If it's not eaten promptly, it's overcooked/mushy/wilted, etc., so I go ahead and eat if he's not here. I'd like him to be with me when I sit down at the table.
I feel it's incredibly rude for him to be late. When I tell him that, he laughs like it's a big joke. Short of treating him like a 2-year-old and throwing his food away if he doesn't show up on time, I'm not sure what to do. Can you help? — Fed Up in Napa, Calif.
Dear Fed Up: I can't force your husband to the dinner table and neither can you. To toss his dinner into the garbage would be too overtly hostile and a waste of food. Try this: Tell him dinner time is 6:30, but prepare the food as if it's for 6:45 or 7.
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.