Dear Abby: Overwhelmed new parents struggle to eat healthy food
DEAR ABBY: I have a close friend who recently had a baby with serious health problems. Unfortunately, we live on opposite sides of the country, and I can't afford to fly out there. I want to help, but short of calls and texts to let her know I'm thinking of her, I'm out of ideas.
She's mentioned several times that with all the work of being a new parent plus the extra work involved with a child with special needs, she often doesn't have time to prepare healthy meals and reverts to junk food that she can grab easily. Ordinarily, I'd bring over a few meals to help out, but that's impossible to do when she's so far away.
Restaurant gift cards would be an option, but unfortunately she and her husband don't have the time to go to one. I'm hoping you might have other ideas on how I can help out from afar. -- PUZZLED ABOUT HELPING
DEAR PUZZLED: Go online and research food delivery services in the city or town where your friend lives. Some businesses deliver prepared meals on a weekly basis. Other companies ship boxes of wonderful fruits every month. But before doing anything, ASK your overwhelmed friend what she and her husband think might be helpful rather than try to second-guess.
DEAR ABBY: I'd like to know if there is a nice way of asking my niece and her boyfriend, who are in their mid- to late-20s, not to bring their phones to the dinner table? I have spent days preparing for and cooking holiday meals. The evening was less than enjoyable for me because they were only partly there, and spent most of their time texting and presumably on Facebook.
It's awkward to ask an adult to practice good manners. Any words of wisdom will be much appreciated. -- WELL-MANNERED LADY IN THE WEST
DEAR LADY: Explain to your niece that you spend a lot of time, money and effort on presenting these meals, and that you were hurt and offended at their apparent lack of appreciation. It's the truth. Do not preoccupy yourself with trying to be nice or you will weaken the message. Some families solve this problem by insisting their guests place their cellphones in a basket before dinner and reclaim them as they depart. (Just a thought!)
DEAR ABBY: My friend from church casually mentioned that he and his wife recently helped themselves to several buckets of sand from a national park. I'm beside myself trying to understand how they can justify pillaging a natural resource so they can pretend they are at the beach. It's beyond selfish and just plain wrong. What can I say to convince them to return it? Can you help me navigate this conversation while still maintaining the friendship? -- SHOCKED IN HAWAII
DEAR SHOCKED: Start by pointing out to your friends that there are serious penalties for doing what he and his wife did. I ran your letter by my former personal assistant, Winni, who lives in Hawaii. She informed me that, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, stealing sand from the beaches is not only against the law, but also punishable with fines of upwards of $100,000.
Fiancee leaving for work drives to a tryst instead
DEAR ABBY: I am a 59-year-old man who was engaged to a 46-year-old woman. She told me she was going to leave for work on Friday, but I found out she was actually going on a vacation. She was pretending to go to work but driving to Georgia to meet a married man she met on a dating site instead.
We live in New Jersey, and it's a 13-hour drive. I found her phone the day before and deleted all his info, but she still drove down there to meet him. I am devastated and crushed. Any help or suggestions? I wish people who do this stuff could be tattooed on the forehead to warn other good people. -- HURT IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR HURT: I sympathize with your pain, which I am sure is considerable. I do have some advice, which I hope you will heed. Please realize that finding her phone before her departure was a gift to you from above. Thank your higher power that you now understand exactly who this woman is and didn't marry her.
The time has come to move forward resolutely. There are better days -- and better women -- ahead. I say this with certainty because you can't do worse than this one.
DEAR ABBY: I reached out recently to the daughter of my cousin who had just passed away. I offered condolences and a picture of her great-grandfather, who was my grandfather. I also shared some warm memories of her dad, my cousin.
She shot back with some seriously negative information about her dad's dad, my uncle. It really shook me.
I didn't want to know that information. I barely knew my uncle, but my memories of the family all involved happy times together.
What she said shocked and saddened me. I wish I didn't know. I think people should speak well of those who are gone or say nothing. Don't you? -- UNPLEASANT IN THE WEST
DEAR UNPLEASANT: Most people tend to omit the unpleasant details when talking about someone who has passed on, but I do not think there are any hard-and-fast rules. I'm sorry you were upset about the dose of truth you received in exchange for your warm memories. But understand, I have read obituaries and listened to eulogies that were so sanitized I didn't recognize who was being discussed. Perhaps there is a happy medium.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 13-year-old with an addiction to screens. I sometimes pull overnighters on my phone. I'm starting to realize my limits. Sometimes I cannot trust myself with my actions, and I think I may need help. Do you have any advice? -- SEEING THE LIGHT IN MARYLAND
DEAR SEEING: It takes a brave person to admit they have a problem and be proactive in accepting that it may be something they can't solve on their own.
I congratulate you for admitting it. You are not the only teen with this issue. Many people your age and older struggle with it, too.
Your next step should be to talk to your parents about your concerns and ask for help in breaking your screen addiction. This can sometimes involve more than going "cold turkey," and they may need to seek a referral from your doctor.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.