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Dear Abby 2/3
Estranged son extends his hand in hopes of a handout
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DEAR ABBY: My son recently got in touch with me after almost four years of absolutely no contact. We had a falling-out years back, and neither of us could seem to put things behind us at the time and move on.
    His mother (my wife) died 3 1/2 years ago, and he barely made it back for the funeral.
    He called after all this time to ask me for money. It seems he has fallen on hard times and needs my support. I am not sure I am in a position financially to help him, as I am nearing retirement and concerned about my own expenses. I also feel a little resentful that after all this time, the only reason he called was for money.
    I'm afraid if I don't help him, I will lose him forever. But should I give him money as a way to keep him in my life? I am torn about the situation. I want to be a good father and help my son, but what does that mean? -- UNSURE IN NEW YORK
    DEAR UNSURE: If your son is without a job, help him find one if you can. But do not jeopardize your retirement. Much as one might wish it, money can't buy love. Until you and your son iron out what went wrong in your relationship, such an investment would not bring you the return you are looking for.
    DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for three years and had our first child 10 months ago. The problem is, his parents want to come and visit us at least once a month. They live six hours away.
    It wouldn't be so bad, except our house is very small and has only one bathroom. It's very uncomfortable to share a bathroom with your in-laws. My husband doesn't see my point of view. He believes I am just being hateful and do not like his parents! I don't know what to do. I just can't take these monthly visits much longer. Please help me. -- TRAPPED IN ATLANTA
    DEAR TRAPPED: If you do not stand up for yourself now, this could continue until your child is in college. It's time for a frank chat with your mother-in-law. Tell her that while you love her and welcome her and "Dad's" involvement with the grandbaby, you would all be more comfortable if they stayed in a nearby hotel/motel.
    P.S. Of course, the same rule should apply to your parents when they come to visit.

   DEAR ABBY: How do you make yourself like somebody if you don't like them, but want to like them?
    Here's the situation. I am 15 and have a stepsister the same age. We have been stepsisters for two years. We have never gotten along and have never liked each other. Usually, when you won't like somebody you can just avoid the person, but we have to be together and share a room every other weekend when I go to my dad's for visitation, and it would be a lot nicer if we liked each other.
    It's not that either of us is a bad person -- it's more of a personality conflict. How can I get myself to like her and get her to like me? -- KANSAS CITY STEPSISTER
    DEAR STEPSISTER: You are asking about the art of diplomacy and negotiation. Here's how it works. First, you find something the two of you can agree on. (Example: I love my father. You love your mother. We both want them to be happy, don't we?) And work from there. Anything you can agree on, you take off the table. What you can't agree on, try to compromise. This takes practice, but it is a valuable tool once you master it and will serve you well all your life.
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