DEAR ABBY: I am in my late 20s and recently became engaged to my boyfriend of more than a year. He is in his early 30s. His parents live on the other side of the country, and we see them only twice a year. We plan on visiting them for the holidays, and some friends of theirs will be throwing us a bridal shower.
I was married before. I was 18 and it lasted three years. I was devastated when it ended. Am I obligated to tell them about my previous marriage? My fiance knows, of course.
This is not something I like to discuss. I was raised in a very religious household where divorce is looked down upon. My fiance's parents are not particularly religious, however. —UNCOMFORTABLE IN ST. LOUIS
DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: While this may not be something you like to discuss, disclose it to your fiance's parents before the wedding. This trip would be a good time to do it, so you can answer any questions that might arise.
Tell them that it's not something you usually talk about, but you and their son didn't want them to think you are hiding anything. If the subject comes up in the future, tell them that it is in the past and you do not wish to discuss it further.
DEAR ABBY: As a teacher, I open my doors every year to at least one student who has low self-esteem. I spend the school year searching for ways to show that child he or she has value. I feel there is no more important lesson for me to teach.
These children's parents don't mean for this to happen. They want their children to be "perfect." The children, though, know they aren't perfect and feel that who they are isn't enough.
Parents, does this sound familiar? If so, then love your children as you did when they first learned to walk. Love them unconditionally when they fail and encourage them to try again. When they make a mistake, celebrate the strength it took to try. When they mess up, let them know you love them even when they aren't at their best.
Remember, feelings stay with children forever. When things get hard, allow your children to fail and to fix it themselves. Celebrate who your children are. Unconditional love is the greatest gift parents can give their children. — KATHY IN ELK GROVE, CALIF.
DEAR KATHY: I'm glad you wrote. You have a wise head and a caring heart, which is an unbeatable combination in an educator. The lessons your students are learning in your classroom will influence their lives long after they are out of school.
DEAR ABBY: My partner and I were happy to be married two weeks ago, now that same-sex couples can marry here in California. During the 25 years that we have been together, we have introduced each other simply as "my partner." Is it now socially correct to introduce each other as "my husband"? It sounds right to us, but would it make straight people uncomfortable? — RON IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR RON: Because gay marriage is new to many people, it may do that initially. But to call your spouse "husband" is correct, so go ahead and do it. As more gay and lesbian couples officially tie the knot, the less unusual it will be. Trust me on that.