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Dear Abby 1/12
Divorcing dad's new girlfriend is front and center too soon
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DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Noah," and I are being divorced. He moved out nine months ago. We have a 7-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter.
    Last month, Noah revealed that he has had a girlfriend, "Dana," since last June, and they're moving into an apartment together this week. He said the children won't have to meet Dana until I'm comfortable with it. Noah also promised it would be "gradual."
    I took the kids to see his apartment a couple of days later. The next day he called me and announced he was taking them to a birthday party for one of Dana's relatives. He also said some co-workers would be there. (He and Dana work for the same company.)
    We're not even divorced yet! I don't want to teach my kids that people live together before marriage. By moving in with Dana, Noah has created a secret I can't tell my kids.
    Abby, I had to meet many of my father's girlfriends. They all fell by the wayside, each time creating more loss in my life. I don't want that to happen to my children. I'm thinking of making a rule: One year of committed relationship before either Noah or I introduce them to a potential partner. Personally, I'm waiting until after the divorce is final before I start to date. Am I right? -- PROTECTIVE MOM IN MISSOURI
    DEAR PROTECTIVE MOM: Create all the rules you wish, but that doesn't mean Noah will abide by them. If he took the children to a birthday party for a relative of Dana's, it's logical to assume that they have already met her.
    While you might like your children to keep their innocence, it may be impossible under the circumstances. (If the children visit at Daddy's, is he supposed to throw a blanket over his roommate?)
    Honesty is the best policy — in measured doses. Realistically, he should tell the children that Dana is his new "friend," and if things develop from there, so be it. How you conduct your own life is your business, and I admire your character and maturity in waiting to begin dating until after the divorce is final.

    DEAR ABBY: I am a 33-year-old single mother with three children ages 11, 3 and 1. After escaping an unhealthy three-year relationship, I moved back in with my parents. I soon found a good job, and I have been paying my parents a substantial amount of rent every month.
    My problem is, after 11 months of living with my parents, I feel it's time for me and my children to get a place of our own. Mother keeps trying to talk me out of moving because she has become dependent on the money she receives from me every month. I don't want to leave her in a bind, but I need my own space. How can I resolve this without hurting our relationship? -- CLUELESS IN ILLINOIS
    DEAR CLUELESS: Set a realistic date to be out of your parents' house, and let them know in advance what it will be. That way, your mother may be able to wean herself from her dependency on your rent money, and you won't simply be cutting her off.
    If your parents cannot cut back to what they were living on before you moved in, then face the fact that they are the ones with the "problem" — not you — and they may need financial counseling.

    DEAR ABBY: My life is a wreck. I have two kids, and I'm only 20. We live with our friends because my fiance's father kicked us out for telling him to get a job and help pay the bills.
    There are 11 people living in this three-bedroom trailer. God bless them for taking us in. My fiance lost his job the same week. I am so depressed, all I do is cry. I don't know what to do with myself. I need help. Do you have any advice? -- DISTRAUGHT IN OHIO
    DEAR DISTRAUGHT: Only this. Dry your tears and start looking for a job. I don't need a crystal ball to see that under the current circumstances, you are going to need one.
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