Dear Annie: I had a close relationship with my sister, "Suzy," and her husband, "Clyde," before Suzy passed away last year. I constantly reminded my sister of her good fortune in finding such a wonderful husband. (I was secretly a bit jealous.) They were the perfect couple for 10 years. When Suzy died, Clyde took it very hard, but we remained close.
Clyde recently told me that he has romantic feelings for me -- apparently very strong feelings. If this were a friend's husband, I might eagerly pursue the relationship. Since this is my sister's widower, however, I am very reluctant to let Clyde know I feel the same way.
I feel guilty and am afraid my family will think I am taking advantage of my brother-in-law's situation. I know in my heart that Clyde and I would make a great match. I hate to give up my one chance at happiness because my family may consider it a betrayal to Suzy. Please give me some direction. Guilty in New York
Dear Guilty: Our chances of happiness in this world are limited enough. We shouldn't pass up the opportunities that are staring us in the face. Talk to your family about Clyde. Let them know what is going on, so they are more likely to understand and accept your new relationship, but don't let them discourage you. You and Clyde both deserve to be happy. Go for it.
Dear Annie: I've had enough. I have a 4-year-old son with a disability that is not visible when you look at him. This causes problems when we are out in public. I have had well-meaning people say my son is rude because he didn't respond when they asked him a question. I've been given advice on potty training, how to feed my child and exactly what to feed him, and have been asked if I read to him and if I encourage him to speak, or if I just cater to his every whim and spoil him.
All of these comments are from perfect strangers who do not know my son and have no idea of the difficulties he faces. These statements are made right in front of him as if he cannot understand what they say. I leave these encounters in tears.
There are children around us who have disabilities not obvious to the eye. If you see a mother struggling with a screaming child, don't assume it's a temper tantrum or the mother cannot control her child. Nonresponsive children may be autistic or have speech problems or neurological disorders.
It is insulting and rude to offer advice when you know nothing about the situation. All mothers, especially those with special-needs children, do not need advice from perfect strangers. Frustrated Mother in New Jersey
Dear Mother: Too many people make judgments about struggling parents when they should be offering assistance. Everyone should keep in mind that there could be more going on than meets the eye. Instead of making unwanted suggestions, it's better to say, "You certainly have your hands full. Can I help?"
Dear Annie: I work with a very lovely lady. She is intelligent and funny. The problem is, she always insists that she is right about everything. So far, I've kept my mouth shut, even when I know she is wrong, but my patience is wearing thin.
It really bugs me when she says, "I know I'm right." Is there anything I can do to get her to stop? Portland, Maine
Dear Portland: Although it sounds smug and self-important, the need to be right all the time is often evidence of insecurity. Unless the subject is important, ignore her comments. And if you are in a position to correct her, try to be kind.
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