DEAR AMY: My 41-year-old son cheated on my daughter-in-law (for the third time) and then left her and my 6-year-old grandson. They were together for 20 years.
I adore my daughter-in-law, and I'm heartbroken. My son told me he never really loved her but stayed with her because he didn't want to break her heart and because she was such a great wife, mother and all-around good person. I'm so ashamed and disappointed in him.
I'm very close with my daughter-in-law. She says she couldn't have gotten through this without me. We talk every day.
Although I still love my son very much (naturally), I don't even want to talk to him right now. He already wants us to meet the woman he left my daughter-in-law for. I can't imagine meeting her, and I saw her picture on Facebook — honestly, she looks like a prostitute.
I'm 100 percent on my daughter-in-law's side. She didn't deserve this and neither did my wonderful grandson. I raged at my son when I first found out; now he calls me and tells me how guilty he feels. Although I'm civil to him, I don't even want to hear his voice right now. Will I ever get over this anger at my son?
— Furious Mother
DEAR FURIOUS: I applaud your expression of friendship and concern for your daughter-in-law, but you should do this without becoming too intimately involved. Your daughter-in-law is lucky she can talk to you about this, but this will become a problem for you when you finally get to the point where you communicate with your son again — and you will get to that point.
It's appropriate to rain down the "wrath of mom" upon your son's sorry head. There is no reason to shield him from your opinion. There is also no reason to spend time with his new squeeze before you are ready (although stalking her on Facebook is hardly mature behavior). Over time, however, your anger will not help this family — and may actually stoke the flame and extend their challenges.
Be supportive, be understanding and do your best to be a true friend to this entire family. Urge them to pursue mediation with a professional.
DEAR AMY: My family and I live on a nice street with residents of all ages — from young families to the elderly.
One of the neighbors has four nice children, but there is a problem: The kids are constantly going door to door fundraising. Soliciting for scouting and school projects, they are able to raise a great deal of money on our street alone. But over the last 10 years my husband and I have spent about $1,000 supporting them, and we simply cannot do it anymore.
Any advice on how to handle this and still maintain neighborly relations?
— Bothered Neighbors
DEAR BOTHERED: The way to handle this is with a smile — and an iron will to resist the adorable entreaties of sweet-faced saleskids.
You could post a little "no solicitation" sign outside your door and then kindly explain what it means: "Do you see this little sign? It means we can't buy things. But I bet you're going to do well, and let me know how it goes!" Deal with this in a friendly, open and honest manner.
Not participating in these fundraising efforts actually teaches these kids something important — that adults have to make tough choices sometimes and that you don't get everything you ask for, even if you ask nicely.
DEAR AMY: I was shocked at "Daring Dad's" interest in letting his 10-year-old son "explore the city" on his own and your suggestion that this was a good idea! What are you two thinking? Do you live in the 1950s or something?
DEAR APPALLED: I offered practical suggestions for how this father can foster his son's independence — gradually and safely. The more savvy and responsible children are encouraged to be, the safer they will be when they venture out into the world.
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.