DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of a 5-year-old daughter I'll call Mandy. Her father and I separated when she was 16 months old and now we are divorced. I am newly engaged to a wonderful man and very happy.
I have just learned that my ex is having a baby boy with a woman he has stated he does not love and isn't even in a committed relationship with. I would like to protect Mandy from any pain this might cause her because she is a Daddy's girl.
How should I deal with this and maintain my composure regarding the sibling who will now forever be a part of my daughter's life (and mine)? -- STRESSED OUT IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR STRESSED OUT: It is not appropriate to show your disgust with this situation to your daughter. Because your ex has gone on record that he doesn't love the woman he impregnated, and he is not in a committed relationship with her, you may be worrying needlessly. He will have a financial obligation to his son, but whether he's willing to be a father in the best sense of the word we don't know.
If Mandy interacts with her half brother she will have to learn to share, which is an important life lesson every child must learn sooner or later.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 40-something divorced female. After my divorce I met a man I enjoyed being with. He led me to believe he cared for me and I bought into it. It was a vulnerable time for me and, unfortunately, I let my guard down. I did something stupid and co-signed for a student loan for him. He has stopped making payments, has blocked my calls, moved, etc., and now I'm stuck with the financial burden.
I have learned that he had a fiancee while we were involved and they are now married. Abby, he was bilking me the whole time.
I need to know what legal recourse I have. I know where he lives and possibly where he works, so if he needs to be served with papers, he can be found. I regret that I didn't keep my guard up, and I don't feel he should get away with this. What should I do now? -- LET MY GUARD DOWN IN OHIO
DEAR LET YOUR GUARD DOWN: It appears you have been the victim of a fraud. If I were you, the first thing I'd do is share his address with the loan company. Then I'd discuss this matter with the police to find out if he has a history of bilking women and if I could file charges. If that isn't possible, the next thing I'd do is talk with a lawyer about any legal remedies available to me. And that's what I'm advising you to do.
DEAR ABBY: I work in the media and meet a lot of people. I have arthritis in my hands. I have always believed in a firm handshake, but I'm finding that receiving one is crippling my hand. I don't want to appear unfriendly by not reciprocating a handshake, but I don't want my hand to ache for hours on end after meeting someone. Any suggestions? -- HURTING IN DOVER, DEL.
DEAR HURTING: It would not be unfriendly to simply say, "It's nice to meet you, but I can't shake hands because I have arthritis." Many people do, and it's the truth.
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.
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