DEAR ABBY: At 18, I married my high school sweetheart. After 20 years of marriage and four wonderful children, my husband decided the grass was greener elsewhere, and we divorced. He paid no attention to my children or my grandchildren when they were young.
He has since remarried, has a child with his current wife and acts like he's Father of the Year. Last weekend one of my grandchildren got married. My blowhard of an ex brought a picture of himself, my son, my grandson and my great-granddaughter saying he'd had this picture taken of four generations of the family. He never mentioned that if it hadn't been for ME giving birth to our children, none of them would have even been there.
Am I overly sensitive to feel like a second-class citizen when we attend a family function? Must I continue to say nothing, or speak up? How do others handle this situation? -- CLUELESS IN THE EAST
DEAR CLUELESS: They handle it by choosing their battles carefully. I think it's important that you ask yourself why anything your ex says would make you feel like a second-class citizen. He appears to have moved on with his life more quickly than you have moved on with yours. Concentrate your efforts on expanding your horizons -- your interests and friendships -- and you will find anything he might say will be far less important to you. Trust me on that.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a public school teacher with a word of advice to parents who wonder why their children misbehave, argue with them and act out with attention-getting behaviors: PUT DOWN YOUR CELLPHONES AND PAY ATTENTION TO THEM!
I just finished a parent-teacher conference with a mother whose children argue, pout and scream when she tells them to do something at home. Her children are not disabled, nor do they demonstrate these behaviors in my classroom. Abby, during the entire meeting, that woman texted on her phone. How rude!
The next time I meet with someone who pulls that, I'll ask if she (or he) would like to suspend the meeting until their pressing business (pun intended) is finished. Maybe the parent needs to be embarrassed in order to realize how inappropriate texting or talking on the phone is when she (or he) is face-to-face with another person unless the other person says it's OK. -- HAS TO VENT
DEAR VENT: Vent away. I agree that what the mother did was disrespectful. It prevented you from effectively giving her information about her child that she needed to know.
As great a benefit as technology has been to society, it appears to also be a double-edged sword. By that I mean, while it fosters communication, it has kept parents from bonding with their toddlers and young people from learning to effectively communicate with each other face-to-face. The ultimate result of this is yet to be determined, but I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of people finding a balance so they can form healthy relationships. I hope your letter will serve as a wake-up call to someone who needs a reminder.
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. Read Dear Abby daily at rocketminer.com.