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Dear Abby 12/06
Wife objects to husband serving as party escort
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DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Steve's," daughter by his first marriage has a mentor at work who keeps trying to "borrow" him as her escort to the company Christmas party. Steve and I have been married nine years, and this is the third time she has tried to pull this stunt.
    I don't believe my husband is interested in her, but everyone at the company knows he is married, and for her to show up with him as her escort is highly insulting to me.
    Steve agreed on the phone to go with her this afternoon and told me about it when I got home from work. I told him how I felt, and he immediately said he wouldn't go — he hadn't realized it would bother me. I told him he now "has to" go or she will think I am threatened by her.
    My stepdaughter evidently doesn't see a problem with it, as she's the one who called to facilitate the woman asking my husband. (I wonder how she'd have felt if her mother were still married to her dad?)
    Yes, my husband is a fun, entertaining person. Are my pantyhose in a knot over nothing? — OFFENDED, NOT THREATENED
    DEAR OFFENDED: Your husband may be "fun and entertaining," but he is also married — and that means he's out of the escort pool. He should not attend the function without you, and his daughter and her "mentor" were out of line to ask.
    DEAR ABBY: I have two children, 15 and 17. Many of their friends are becoming single parents. Not wanting that for my children, I talk to them and urge them not to have babies until they're ready to be good parents.
    You are so good at coming up with lists for things, Abby. Could you compile a list of criteria for what makes a really good parent? It would be nice to show them what that adds up to. — NANCY IN FLAGSTAFF, ARIZ.
    DEAR NANCY: I'm pleased to help. However, I'm sure my readers will want to add to the list, which is a short one.
    (1) Can you support the child financially? Children are expensive. I always urge people to complete their education and delay parenthood until they are self-supporting, in case they should find themselves in the role of sole provider.
    (2) Can you support the child emotionally? Babies are cute, but they are also completely helpless and emotionally needy. While some young women say they want a baby so they'll have someone to love them, the reality is it's the parent's responsibility to love and sacrifice for the child. In plain English, this means the end of a normal teenage social life because babies are extremely time-consuming.
    (3) Are you prepared to be a consistent parent? Children learn by example — both good and bad. Are you prepared to be a role model for the behaviors you want your child to mimic? Because mimic they do. They learn more from what they observe than what they're told.
    (4) Have you read up on child development? Are your expectations of what a child should be able to accomplish as he or she reaches various chronological milestones realistic? Ditto for your partner, whether or not he or she is the child's biological parent.
    (5) Are you prepared to put someone else's needs before your own for the next 18 to 21 years? Remember, babies can't be returned to the manufacturer for a refund if you're not 100 percent satisfied. Sometimes they come with serious challenges. Can you cope with those realities?
    If the answer to any of these questions is no, I strongly advise postponing parenthood.
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