Dear Abby: Grandparents are 'mommy' and 'daddy' to toddler  

DEAR ABBY: My daughter passed away last year, and we received custody of our grandson, who was 15 months old at the time. He is now nearly 2 1/2 years old. My daughter wanted him to call me Mamaw because that's what she called my mother, so I've always referred to myself that way, but recently, he has started calling me Mommy. I say Mamaw back to him and sometimes he will say Mamaw, but more often it's Mommy.

I'm uncomfortable not honoring my daughter as his mommy. We display her photos, and he will say that that's his mommy, but I also don't want to hurt his feelings by saying I'm not his mommy. His father isn't in the picture, so my husband and I are the only parents he knows. My husband seems uncomfortable with him calling me Mommy and when he hears it, he tries to correct him. Should we allow him to call us Mommy and Daddy or continue to correct him? -- GETTING IT RIGHT IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR GETTING IT RIGHT: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your daughter. I see nothing positive to be gained by not allowing your grandson to call you what he wants. You and your husband have made clear that his mommy is in heaven, but right now the boy needs a "Mommy" right here on Earth. It is not at all disrespectful of your late daughter's memory to allow him that.

DEAR ABBY: I have been happily married to my husband for five years. When we married, money was tight, so we agreed to use temporary wedding rings and upgrade to our final official set later. Well, we finally did it, and my ring is what I always wanted. It is stunning.

The problem: When friends and family (and sometimes even strangers!) compliment me on my ring, it is often accompanied with, "Can I try it on?" or more forcibly, "Let me try that on!" I would never ask to try on something so precious to someone else, and I never want to see someone else wearing my wedding rings. Why do women do this and how can I politely tell them "NO WAY"? -- SHOCKED IN NEW YORK

DEAR SHOCKED: The women want to see it on their own hand and imagine for a moment that the ring is theirs. Feeling as you do, convey your message by smiling and replying, "I never remove my wedding rings other than to clean them."

DEAR ABBY: I live in Florida, and the rest of my big family lives in Canada. Last year, five of my nieces/nephews were admitted to the hospital for varying health reasons. Rather than send flowers, I sent each a check for $50.00. I thought money would be more useful.

Well, last week my daughter was diagnosed with malignant melanoma after a mole was removed. After I emailed the news to my sisters, I received one response from a sister saying, "Give your daughter our best!" Other than that, there have been no cards -- nothing. Am I petty in thinking they should have at least sent my daughter a card? -- PETTY IN FLORIDA

DEAR PETTY: Your relatives apparently didn't consider the thoughtfulness you displayed to their children something to be reciprocated. How sad. In situations like this, it isn't the tangible item that's most important, it's the thought, and it appears your relatives didn't want to put in the effort. I do not think it's petty to recognize that fact and feel disappointment. You are human.

Landlord finds herself pulled into renter's drama

DEAR ABBY: I'm a retired widow who took in a renter in his 60s a few years ago. At the time, he had moved from another part of the state for a job that lasted only four months. As a result, he could no longer pay his full rent. I empathized with his situation and couldn't throw him out to live in his car. The man is clean and respectful of my home as well as my personal space. He has sent countless resumes around for a job, with no luck.

These days, he seems to be always frustrated and angry with everyone, including his doctor's office staff, and I have to hear all about it. I tried to mediate his frustrations to no avail. I have reached a point where I feel he is creating a heavy atmosphere of negativity in my home. How do I handle this? I don't want to throw him out, yet I am living with guilt. -- JUST ABOUT HAD IT IN FLORIDA

DEAR JUST ABOUT HAD IT: You are kind, understanding and you have done your darndest, but you cannot solve this man's employment problems for him. He may suffer from depression at this point. Because he's not getting along with the staff at his doctor's office, he may need counseling through your county department of mental health. Please suggest it. Since he has been your "guest" for so long, it would be in your interest to discuss your situation with your attorney. It may not be easy to get him out of your home, which is something you may need to consider for your own mental health.

DEAR ABBY: For years I have been continually excluded by my sister and my father. I always knew she was the favorite. I am the older sister. My sister, her family and my father and stepmother go out to dinner or lunch together once or twice a week. I have never been invited. The same is true with movies and other recreational activities. (I work two nights a week and every other Saturday. None of them work more than Monday through Friday -- and no nights.)

They have now announced they are all going on a cruise together. Although I was not invited, they were "kind" enough to ask me to watch their pets in their absence (seven dogs and three cats). Clearly, I am only good enough to be their babysitter. I have always had a hard time saying "no" to Dad about anything. When I was first asked about watching the animals, I did refuse. However, they are still telling everyone that I'm watching them. How can I tell them "no" and make it stick? Also, how do I go about letting go of the hurt feelings when I am excluded from everything in their lives? -- HURT AND FEELING LEFT OUT

DEAR HURT: Get the message across to your father and sister by INFORMING them they will need to board their pets elsewhere during their vacation. As to letting go of your hurt feelings, a step in the right direction would be to accept that you were born into a family of difficult, challenging people, and understand that you will never be able to satisfy your father. Then start building a "family" of friends who are caring and supportive. Many people do this with great success, and so can you.

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.