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Dear Abby 8/16

Widower's return to socializing upsets his teen granddaughters

    DEAR ABBY: I have been widowed just one month shy of a year. Over the last three months, I have been seeing a lovely woman who was widowed for the second time. (It has been seven months since she lost her second husband.)
    I have two granddaughters — both 13 years of age — and my daughters tell me they're asking why I'm seeing another woman and "it hasn't even been a year since Grandma died." Abby, is the year written in stone? Is there anything I can say to my granddaughters? They don't seem to understand that Muffin (my dog) isn't enough of a companion for me. — TROUBLED IN NORTH HATFIELD, MASS.
    DEAR TROUBLED: Nothing is written in stone except a person's epitaph. While it is advisable that recently widowed people wait a year before jumping into a serious relationship — in other words, "rebound" — it is not unusual for a widow or widower to begin having some sort of social life before the year has elapsed.
    Ask your granddaughters if they would like to see you happy, or if they prefer to see you lonely. And if your wife died of an illness, remind them that people don't start grieving only when their mate dies. There is often a grieving period that begins when a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
    At 13, people see things in black and white. Unfortunately, life is often painted in shades of gray.

    DEAR ABBY: Can you please answer a simple question I have that my father won't answer? I am a responsible 17-year-old young lady, but my dad believes that I am too young to start dating. With this in mind, he refuses to answer my question, which is, how much older than me can a young man be who I decide to bring home? My dad refuses to give me an age limit. He also doesn't believe that teenagers should be dating. He constantly asks if I have someone in mind, which I don't. I am just curious. Any suggestions? — DATING DILEMMA IN NEW YORK
    DEAR D.D.: I disagree with your father's views about teenage dating. While I am sure he wants to protect you from being emotionally hurt or taken advantage of, he is going about it in the wrong way.
    The teen years are a time for learning and gaining experience. At 18, you will be considered an adult and capable of making your own decisions. I see nothing "safe" about a person with no experience beginning to date at 18 — or older. In fact, I see it as the opposite.
    As to what age the men you see should be, it's more important that they be at your level of life experience than any chronological number.

    DEAR ABBY: I am a student at a big school, and around here you're always hearing how teenagers have this "special bond" with their parents. I don't want to go up to them and ask them how they do it, because that would be embarrassing. So I'm asking you: How can I form that special bond with my parents — especially with my mom? — DISTANCED IN FREDRICA, DEL.
    DEAR DISTANCED: The special bond you long for isn't something that you "get" as a teenager. It is trust and communication that is nurtured from early childhood. Because you can't bring yourself to discuss it with your parents — especially your mother — you should talk about it with another adult relative you can trust or a counselor at school.
    Your letter is a sad one because you are not alone in feeling the way you do. Many teens have written to me and described feeling isolated because their parents don't have the time or the will to engage them as they should.

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