Ask Auntie Linda

Dear Auntie Linda,

My husband and I have been married fourteen years.  We have been trying to have a child for ten.  We recently went through a rough patch and separated for a few months.  I was intimate with an old friend during that period.  My husband and I reconciled and I realized I was pregnant, afterwards.  Either man could be the father.  My husband knows the whole story and wants the baby, either way. This may be our only chance to have a child.  The other man is divorced and recently lost his only child, so it is not unlikely he will suspect the child could be his and want paternal rights.  Both sets of grandparents are ecstatic about the baby, though of course, they don’t know the whole story.   I don’t want this child to be hurt.  My husband’s parents would not welcome a child not of their blood.  How do I handle this?  Worried Mama

Dear Worried, If you and your husband are in agreement, that is what matters.  With the possibility of custody questions looming, I would be proactive and do DNA testing at birth and talk to a lawyer pending results.  Many families have to share custody.  As far as the grandparents, I can’t see how it would help them to have extra time to worry.  Good luck.


Auntie Linda,  My sister is a serial marrier.  She is thirty-eight and has been married four times and had numerous relationships and children with two exes. She has a well-established pattern.  While in a relationship, she meets the love of her life, and begins clandestine affair, while raging and abusing the current guy, before moving on to next relationships.  All of her husbands have been good guys but I have become reluctant to become close to her current husband since he probably won’t be around long.  She is already becoming critical of him, meaning he will soon be history.  In other relationships, she has maintained contact with  “friends” during her marriage, becoming increasingly involved as her relationship or marriage falls apart.  Recently, her husband asked to speak to me about their marriage.  I’d rather not get into her behaviors or history.  It is awkward for her children and the rest of our family to have to deal with her ever-changing partners.  Over the years, we’ve had so many come and go it’s odd to see who is in holiday pictures.  How does family maintain relationships without getting dragged into multiple relationships? Tired of love

Dear Tired, You needn’t feel any responsibility beyond common courtesy.  It’s not your job to defend or explain your sister.  People should go into relationships with their eyes wide open, understanding people with a history of many broken marriages and relationships are not a good risk.  That’s a lot of baggage.  You might just as hubby #4 if he can count and wish him luck.


Ask Auntie Linda

Auntie LindaDear Auntie Linda, My husband, Bob, had a cancerous kidney removed four years ago. Our marriage was never good. He is a truck driver and did well until three weeks ago when he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor after a seizure. Now, he is unable to work. His prognosis is poor and he needs my health insurance. We have three children. I had already told him I was leaving before all this happened. I could never leave him, now, with him being sick. He had already confronted me because of some text messages and emails he found, though I am pretty sure he has been unfaithful as well. He knows I have gotten involved with Mike, co-worker. I want a relationship with him.

Bob, our children, and I are all devastated by Bob’s illness and terminal diagnosis. They know I was leaving before all this happened, and immediately they all started saying I had to stay now. I feel awful about Bob’s illness. I know I am hopelessly stuck. Both our families are involved now. We live in small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Our minister has already been here to visit.

I know I have to stay and care for Bob till the end. That is not my issue. Mike is very supportive. He understands I cannot leave Bob and isn’t asking for that. There is a workshop for my job I must attend in San Francisco next month. Bob’s parents will be coming to stay with him and the children while I must be gone.

Mike wants us to be together that week. I don’t see how it would hurt since Bob knows how I felt before his illness. I wouldn’t hurt Bob by rubbing his nose in it, but I don’t see why I shouldn’t take this opportunity since Bob knew I was leaving him before his diagnosis. Am I wrong to want some happiness before what promises to be a miserable, lengthy ordeal?  Molasses Molly

Dear Molasses,  No, you are not wrong to want happiness, but this is not the time to put yourself first.  Escape will not solve your problems.  Examine your conscience.  You know Bob’s time is limited.  If your relationship with your children is important, don’t lose sight of the fact that it will be impacted forever.  Their sympathies will be with him.  If the ethics of that don’t concern you,  being involved with a coworker may be a sexual harassment issue, not to mention the damage to your professional reputation and possible job loss.  On a more practical level, you and Bob share a financial situation.  You could be left with astronomical expenses should you lose your job.

I suggest you back off, support Bob and the children through his illness, and consider your needs when the situation changes. I can’t see how adding another problem to the mix will help. Auntie Linda

P. S.  Old Mike sounds like a real buzzard.


Dear Auntie Linda,  Our parents had to go in a nursing home a year ago because two of my sisters and I could no longer care for them at home.  My father had end-stage lung disease requiring professional care.  Mother has early Alzheimer’s Disease.  Though she appears fairly functional on visits, she requires constant attendance since she wanders off and can’t manage her daily care.  The problem is, my father died three weeks ago.  Now, one sister who lives several hours away insists Mother is well enough to return home with some help.  Of course, Mother is all for it.  The problem of managing her care would fall on me and my two sisters who live near Mother.  Even though she appears pleasant and competent, Mother can not be left alone.  She was leaving burners on even before she went in the nursing home.  Several times we had to go looking for her in all weather.  Even though we have made this clear to my sister, she insists Mother can manage with home health.  She says we (not her) can check on her a couple of times a day.  The responsibility of Mother’s care would fall on those of us who live in town, and we have already tried everything.  I am worried my sister will move her home over our objections.  What do we do? Exhausted

Dear Exhausted, Make it clear to your sister that you will not accept responsibility for caring for your mother at home.  If your sister insists on bringing her home, involve the social worker and adult protection if necessary.  Your sister cannot force you to assume responsibility.



Dear Auntie Linda

Auntie Linda

Dear Auntie Linda, I was out to dinner with a group of friends from work when John, an old boyfriend, spotted me and stopped by our table. We were a couple for a few months until I realized he was a narcissist and I realized I needed out. I don’t know why I ever went out with him to start with since he had three ex-wives and four children. We remained on vaguely friendly terms, so I wasn’t surprised he stopped off speak to me. me. Part of the reason we broke up was because I found out he cheated with old girlfriends the whole time I thought we were in a committed relationship. That, and the fact the he became more critical and more manipulative the whole time we were together. I am now happily married with a new baby., now, and want nothing to do with him. One of our group posted a picture with names of everyone in our party.

When I came back from three months maternity leave, Jody, one of my office mates was excited to tell me that John messaged her after seeing her on Facebook. John has moved in with her, and they plan to marry right away. She was over the moon with joy. “John treats me like a princess. John is crazy about my kids. We go out to dinner every night. He wants to get married right away and have a baby.” She is a friend as well as co worker. I feel awful for her. She is smitten. This is John’s pattern, as I sadly learned.

I was very non-commital, but am torn over what, if anything, I should say to her. I don’t want her to think I am still interested in John. On one hand, I like Jody and work in the office next to her. She knows John and I were a couple and has asked a few questions. I don’t want to go into our history, but feel sure she is headed for trouble. I dread having to see it firsthand, especially at work on a daily basis. Should I try to tip her off or just let the chips fall? Been There

Dear Been There, If Jody asks for advice, there’s no reason you shouldn’t give generic advice like, “I always encourage people to take the time to get to know their fiancé well before jumping in with both feet.” Chances are, she’s made up her mind. Auntie Linda

Dear Auntie Linda, my husband and I are retired. We both worked hard and split the chores while we worked. I did most of the housekeeping, cooking, and laundry. He did the mowing, car care, and bill-paying. Since we retired, I work outdoors a lot, because I enjoy it, still cook two meals a day, and do all the household chores. The problem is, I spend a lot more time working now that he does. He doesn’t want to pick up any household chores or pay for cleaning help, even though we can easily afford it. How do we settle this? Katie the Cleaning Lady

Dear Katie, Is your husband inclined to be fair in general? Sounds like he doesn’t want to give up a good deal. It depends on whether you are willing to do. If he is unwilling to do some swapping, let him eat whatever he wants to fix for dinner and leave his laundry. Cold cereal, peanut butter, baloney sandwiches and canned soup are way cheaper than big meals. You could save grocery money and pay cleaning help. If he is not interested in change, it’s up to you. Let some stuff go. Auntie Linda

Ask Auntie Linda, Straight Talk From a Straight Shooter

Auntie LindaDear Auntie Linda, I have a dilemma.  My divorced, 34-year-old daughter, Gwen asked me to help move her and her three children to more than five hundred miles to California where she had taken a job as an apartment manager.  When we got to the address, Gwennie ‘fessed up that she was there to marry a 21 year old man she’d met online.  Of course, I was furious.  The man was shocked to find out about the three children.  I tried to talk Gwennie out of staying, but she was adamant.  Thank goodness, the children wanted no part of it and we left for home immediately.  Gwennie refused my calls for two weeks.  I got a call from her yesterday.  She is staying at a women’s shelter and wants me to send money for plane fare home.  I don’t have an extra dollar.  I would have to sell my car to raise plane fare and then I couldn’t get to work.  My thirteen-year-old granddaughter is looking after the two little ones since I can’t even afford a babysitter.  I wouldn’t be able to feed them without help from the foodbank and church.

Gwennie has always been a pathological liar.  I have no confidence that she is truthful now.  Am I wrong to refuse to help?  Worn out with Gwennie

Dear Worn out, Sounds like a good time for Gwennie to learn to manage for herself, especially since she is not believable.  If she is in a womens shelter, she should avail herself of their services.  You have your hands full caring for Gwennie’s children.  Your first responsibility is to them.  You might consider seeing if Children’s Service can offer you any financial help since their mother is out of the picture.  They may be eligible for benefits as dependent children.

Dear Auntie Linda, My husband’s sister Trudy is ten years older than I.  Neither she nor my mother-in-law has ever accepted me nor welcomed me to the family.  This year, Trudy gave me a sweater she claimed was hand-knitted for Christmas.  When I got home I found a manufacturer’s label in it.  She is self-righteous and critical of me, often snidely pointing out my inadequacies as a wife, mother, and housekeeper, saying, “This is how our family always does things.”  Should I mention that I found the label on the sweater?  It might shut her up.  My husband wants me to let it go in the name of peace, but I’d like her to know I know.  What should I do?  Snubbed

Dear Snubbed, Maybe you should wear it next time you see her and leave it where she can’t avoid seeing label.  Things like that happen sometimes when you are a little untidy.  Auntie Linda

Ask Auntie Linda, Straight Talk from a Straight Shooter

Auntie Linda

Dear Auntie Linda, Reggie and I have been seeing each other off and on for a year.  He says he doesn’t love me, but I know he does.  Every time he leaves me, he ends up coming back to cry on my shoulder.  Why would he keep coming back if he didn’t love me?  The sex is wonderful, but we he never stays long afterward.  I want a real relationship and want to meet his family and friends, but he says he’s not ready for that.  I was offered a job in another city, but he has told me not to take it or I won’t see him any more.  I really hate to turn the job down, but am willing to if Reggie will commit.    I want him more than anything.  Do you think if I gave him an ultimatum, it would make a difference?  In Love

Dear In Love, if Reggie says he doesn’t love you, he doesn’t.  You are fooling yourself.  He keeps coming back when he needs sex with no commitment or investment.  Do yourself a favor and get rid of him, whether or not you take the new job.  Don’t waste anymore time on a man who has no interest in you beyond sex.  You deserve better.  Auntie Linda

Dear Auntie Linda,  My step-brother and I got reacquainted at my stepfather’s funeral after not seeing each other except rarely since I was thirteen and he was twenty.  He lived with his mother in Nebraska and I lived with my mother and stepfather in Indiana and our paths didn’t cross a lot.   When I got a job in New York City, we became friends.  Since then, we’ve fallen for each other.  My mother hit the ceiling when We told her we plan to marry.  She says it’s not decent and says she will be ashamed to tell any of her friends.  She says people will think we were carrying on since we were kids in the house together.  I have reminded her that we hardly knew each other, but she said it is disgusting.  I love my mother, but she is very manipulative and difficult.  I feel she is wrong to put roadblocks in our path.  She also threatened to disown my sister when she married outside my mother’s faith, even though it was not my sister’s faith.  She became resigned to that marriage, though she is not warm to my brother-in-law.  Is there any reason we shouldn’t marry?  Two-steps

Dear Two-steps,  There is no reason you shouldn’t marry.  People will think what they want, but you don’t owe anyone explanations.  Chances are, your mother would offer objections no matter who you choose to marry.  You will just have to decide for yourself, but her objections don’t sound credible.  Auntie Linda


Ask Auntie Linda, Straight Talk from a Straight Shooter

Auntie Linda

Dear Auntie Linda,  We were going to be out of town for the holidays, so we got a young man who grew up with our son to and whose parents are our best friends to housesit and care for our dogs.  We’ve known him for years and felt comfortable having him stay even though he’s college age.  We paid him well to watch the dogs  and maintain the house.  The neighbors told us later he had a girlfriend over the whole time, though he told us he wouldn’t have strangers in the house.  They had to call the police on a loud party.  We got a frantic call that one of our Dachshunds had to go to the vet with a broken leg on Christmas Eve.  Evie is an older dog and not able to move fast enough to get out of people’s way.  I suspect she was kicked or hurt by rough play at the party the neighbors complained about. A good bit of alcohol is missing from our cabinet and we can tell someone was in our bedroom.  We are very upset about the way things went.  We foolishly paid Jerome before we left, knowing he needed the money for Christmas.  We tried to reach Jerome, but he won’t return our calls.  Should we tell his parents? We feel he should make good on damages.  Mad

Dear Mad,  If this guy is in college, he is responsible for himself.  I’d make a point to let him know what a rotten job he did, but unless you are willing to sue, he is not likely to make good.  I wouldn’t hesitate to tell his parents about the bad experience if they asked, but they aren’t responsible. However, they don’t need to recommend him to anyone else.  He may just be a kid who exercised bad judgment, but I’m sure you won’t need his services again.  If anyone asks you for a recommendation, be sure to say there were problems. Auntie Linda

Ask Auntie Linda, Straight Talkerfrom a Straight Shooter

Auntie Linda

Dear Auntie Linda, My mother is 54 years old and is sentenced to twenty-one years  in the Texas Prison  system.  She has served seven years and recently was denied parole.  She was unfortunate enough to be married to a man from a prominent East Texas family.  He had brutally beaten her and put her in the hospital several times.  She got an order of protection, but he continued to stalk and terrorize her.  She was in hiding and he promised to kill her if he found her.

He did find her.  He was pounding on her door vowing to kill her.  She had called 911 and was waiting for rescue when the door started to shatter.  Mom shot through the door, hit John in the chest, killing him before place arrived.  Because she had just purchased the gun after the order of protection and shot him through the door instead of waiting  for him to get in, it was first degree murder.  She had also told friends she was purchasing a gun to protect herself.

My mother has never seen her grandchildren since she doesn’t want them exposed to prison.  I can only see her once a month since it is a four hour drive one way.  I have to provide her with funds to purchase toiletries, hygiene items, and feminine products.  Mother is a model prisoner.  She never wanted to kill her husband.  She only shot him when he was coming in her door to kill her.  She was denied parole despite her good record and regrets for killing him because of John’s family’s influence.  The judicial and law enforcement failed my mother and our entire family.  Thank goodness, we have been able to interest The Innocence Project in her case.

Domesc Violence is a purge on our family and society.  I yearn for he day Mother can rejoin our family.  Sad Daughter

Dear Daughter, Ths is a sad but all-too common story.  I hope there is some help and justice for your mother.  We all must unite to pass stronger laws and support victims of violence to break this chain.  Auntie Linda




Ask Auntie Linda, Straight Talk from a Straight Shooter

Auntie Linda

Dear Auntie Linda, my 29 year-old daughter, Steffie, fled to my home late one Friday evening battered and beaten.  She had been fighting with her husband Rob after their 7-year-old son stumbled onto pictures of his father having sex with transgender man who was a friend of theirs.  We called the police.  Rob spent three nights in jail while Steffie showed me and my husband, Mike(Steffie’s stepfather) many pornographic pictures and messages she’d found.  She intended to leave him, but bailed him out so he could get back to work with intentions of filing order of protection.

Once he was out, he convinced Steffie to reconcile.  My husband and I were horrified at her waffling and taking her six and seven year olds back into this mess.  No doubt He convinced Steffie she couldn’t make it on her own.  Mike and I were very upset and encouraged Steffie to take the children and get out.  She refused, saying they’d just built a house and gotten the kids in a good school district.  The result is, Steffie is furious at Mike and me.  We are now troublemakers interfering in her marriage and made up the whole thing.  We weren’t allowed to see the children for weeks, since we’d “turn them against their parents and lie to them.”  Recently, they have started allowing the kids to get off the bus here again, since babysitting became a huge issue, but Steffie won’t come in, except to threaten us if she heard we’d told the children any of our lies.  We are being held hostage.

The sad fact of the matter is, Steffie is following in my footsteps.  I stayed married to her father for years, even though he drank, cheated, beat us, and never supported us.  He was addicted to porn.  I would have never had the courage to leave him, knowing he might have killed me.  The final humiliation was when he walked out on me before I had a masectomy for breast cancer because he didn’t want “no hacked up, titless old bitch.”

We ended up  moving in with my sister and went on welfare while I went back to school and got enough skills to get a job.

I feel awful knowing Steffie is following in my footsteps.  I traveled the path before she did.  She throws that in my face now, saying I am no better than she is.

I feel responsible for mess of Steffie’s life and know just how scared she is to get out.  I am worried about Steffie and the children.  How can I help her?  Been There

Dear Been There, This is a sad, but not uncommon situation. sounds like a real mess at Steffie’s house.   Even though Steffie saw you in the same situation, she is an adult now and responsible for her own life.  Neither of you can change the past.  It’s good you’re able to be with the children.  I know you will be alert to any signs or talk of abuse.  The children definitely need a safe place.  Steffie may get enough and need your help before too long and be desperate enough to accept your help.  Right now, all you can do is be there for the little ones.  Don’t fail report any signs of abuse.  Auntie Linda

Ask Auntie Linda, Straight Advice from a StraightShooter

Auntie LindaDear Auntie Linda, my mother died about six months ago.  Our family had spent the last year caring for her, but I was the main caregiver.  I never left her house except for a few hours at a time.  Either me, one of my two sisters, or her sister was always at her side.  We didn’t want her to ever feel awkward at getting care from outsiders.  It was a terrible but satisfying part of my life, knowing I was keeping a promise to her long after she wouldn’t have known the difference.  I didn’t want her to die, but thought I’d done my grieving day by day as she declined.  The last two months she didn’t know anybody.  I was so wrong.  My grief is so heavy and oppressive I feel like I can’t get a deep breath.  Every time I take a bite of food or see a sunny day, I am heartsick knowing Mother is gone,  it angers me when people remark that I must’ve relieved.  I don’t enjoy time with my husband, friends, or family.  Is it normal for me to grieve so hard for my Mother.  I don’t want to keep living this way.  Mama’s Girl

Dear Mama’s Girl, The depth of grief you describe for your mother is not usual.  By two months, you should have started feeling some lessening.  Chances are, you have developed clinical depression as a result of the misery of her lengthy illness and grief at her death.  Since you took care of your Mother so long, you lost track of your life.  Talk to your doctor.  Chances are medication will help.  Be sure to stay in touch on your with your doctor on your progress.  It is likely your dose age will have to be adjusted.  You may find it helpful to rate your mood 1 thru 10 daily on your calendar to help you evaluate your progress, since it’s hard to be objective when you have bad days.  Make an effort to do one good thing everyday, especially when you are low.  It will help.  Sorry for your loss.  You will always miss your mother, but life will be good again, just different.  Joy is attainable.  Auntie Linda

Dear  Auntie Linda, I am a sixteen year-old-girl who has never had a boyfriend or even a good friend who is a boy.  I don’t even have a dependable best friend.  My oldest friend often ditches me.  I am so awkward and shy, I’d never talk to a boy for fear he’d laugh at me.  I have no idea how to flirt or make a boy notice me.  I am embarrassed if a boy catches me looking at him.  I just look away, hoping he won’t make fun of me.  I am worried about bullied, so try never to call attention to myself.    I just keep quiet and try to stay under the radar of mean kids.  Sometimes I wonder if I will ever have friends.  Alone and Blue

Dear Alone and Blue, it probably won’t make you feel any better, but many kids are struggling just like you are.  It is hard to judge if people will respond well, but chances are, there  is another shy student near you in school who would welcome a friendly gesture.  You wouldn’t have to smile or even speak.  Maybe just make a point not to look away if you catch their eye.  You can judge from their reaction whether or not they or friendly.  A quiet kid is not likely to ask, “what are YOU staring at?” as a hateful kid would.  Try being just a bit friendlier without making a real gesture.  You sound like a good kid.  Auntie Linda