DEAR ABBY: My father is turning 60 this year, and I want to make him a photo album with pictures from throughout his life. However, Dad is widowed and remarried, so I'm having a hard time deciding what to do with respect to my mother. They were married 25 years before she died, and they loved each other very much. They raised two children together, and she was an important part of his life.
At the same time, I have a feeling that including pictures of Mom may upset my stepmother. While I am not close with her, I don't want to intentionally hurt her feelings. What should I do? -- LAURA IN ST. LOUIS
DEAR LAURA: You're asking an intelligent question and I commend you for your sensitivity. If the photo album is intended to be a surprise for your father, consider talking to your stepmother about the idea. It will give you an indication of how such a gift would be perceived by her.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 24 and love my parents. Mom confided to me that she has been seeing a high school flame behind my father's back. She claims she loves this man and said she has slept with him, but she doesn't want to leave the security my father provides for her. She swore me to secrecy about her affair.
Meanwhile, my father has started talking to me about their marital problems. He doesn't understand why Mother isn't happy. I feel like I should tell him, but that would betray my mother. At the same time, not telling him what I know is betraying him. What should I do? -- CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE
DEAR CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE: Your parents should not be confiding their marital difficulties to you. They should attempt to resolve them by communicating with each other -- preferably with the help of a licensed marriage counselor. That your mother would turn you into a co-conspirator in her affair is despicable. Give her a deadline to level with your father or tell her that you will. He deserves to know the truth.
DEAR ABBY: I have fallen in love with a very special woman. She happens to be my daughter-in-law's mother. We are very happy together, but our children are extremely upset about this. My son and her daughter no longer speak to us at this point.
I feel it's my life and I shouldn't live it for the kids, nor would I want them to live their lives for me. Is it wrong for me to be with her, or are the kids overreacting? -- IN LOVE IN KENTUCKY
DEAR IN LOVE: The "kids" are overreacting, and they shouldn't be trying to blackmail the two of you into doing what they prefer. It is your life, and just as you wish your son and daughter-in-law every happiness, they should be doing the same for you. This situation is not as unusual as they think, and they should not be judging or punishing you, because you are doing nothing wrong.
DEAR ABBY: I married "Darrel" six months ago. It bothers me that he wears a silver bracelet from a relationship that ended five years ago. He claims that if I were to wear a piece of jewelry from my first marriage, it wouldn't bother him as it is "just jewelry." How do you feel about this? -- BOTHERED IN DAYTONA BEACH
DEAR BOTHERED: What I feel about this is not important; it's how you feel. If your husband's wearing the bracelet is a constant, irritating reminder that he was involved with someone else, he should remove it because it isn't "just jewelry" to you. And your feelings should be more important to him than the bracelet, don't cha think?
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.