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Sat, Jan. 25

Dear Abby | Strings attached to son’s gift has mother tied up in knots

Dear Abby: My son bought me a car in 2012. I had no idea he was doing it. He traded my car in for this newer car.

During the last five years this “gift” has been nothing but a sore spot. If I get a ding from a parking lot, it’s my fault. If I let someone smoke in it, I’m unappreciative. It’s always, “I do something to help you, and you’re so ungrateful.” I’m at the point of giving it back and riding a bus. What’s the solution? – Auto-Challenged Mom in West Virginia

Dear Auto-Challenged: The solution is to stand up for yourself. Your son appears to be using his “generosity” to badger you.

If you haven’t told him how his comments have made you feel, you should. Point out that you can’t control what happens to the vehicle when you’re not in it. And once a gift is given, it’s the recipient’s to do with as she wishes. If a friend lighting up in your car doesn’t bother you, you shouldn’t have to apologize for it.

As a last resort, consider trading the car in for one he has nothing to do with.

Dear Abby: After 31 years of marriage, I divorced my husband last year. I was very unhappily married, and am glad to be moving forward in life. Our children suffered as well because of our marriage, and are only now beginning to make healthy choices.

My problem is that people I knew ages ago have found me on social media and want to reconnect. I’m not ready for that. I don’t want to discuss what’s been happening for the last 32 years. I don’t want to wave them off, but neither do I want to talk about my life. It would make them uncomfortable.

I’m building a new life now, but it’s still under construction. How do I respond to these well-meaning old friends? – Not Ready in the South

Dear Not Ready: You do not have to reveal anything to these old acquaintances that you don’t wish to. If they ask questions you feel are too personal or painful, all you have to say is you would rather not discuss it. Then change the subject.

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.

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