DEAR ABBY: At 26, I am about to move in with my girlfriend, "Candace." I love her so much, and I'm confident she's the one I want to marry. Candace has her 4-year-old daughter, "Michelle," with her most of the time we are together.
I'm confident that moving in together is the right decision, but living with Michelle makes me nervous. Although Michelle is smart and well-behaved, like most kids, she can be bratty and demand a lot of attention from Candace and me.
Candace has the utmost patience with Michelle, and I trust her ability as a parent. What I'm worried about is my own level of patience. I don't want kids anytime soon, and I get annoyed with Michelle a little too easily. What steps can I take to assure longevity in this relationship? — YOUNG STEPPARENT
DEAR YOUNG STEPPARENT: Feeling as you do, I am not at all sure you should move in together. I'm surprised that a man who doesn't want kids anytime soon is so eager to enter into a living situation where that very thing is guaranteed. Before changing your living arrangements, consider signing up for parenting classes. They may not only give you insight into what to expect, but also how to handle situations that may arise.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 13 and I have read your column for quite some time. I enjoy it and like to share and discuss some of the letters with my friends.
While I don't always agree with your answers, I always learn something new. I feel that this is the point of me reading your column. I do, however, have a problem with a teacher who feels I should not be reading "adult material" in the paper, and should concentrate on more "age appropriate" things.
Would you please give me advice on what to do or say to my teacher to make her understand this is not inappropriate material for a kid my age to be reading? I would really appreciate it, and I'll do whatever you say. — WAYNE IN NEW YORK
DEAR WAYNE: My column has a readership that spans all ages. I know that because I receive letters from individuals from 9 to 90.
Your parents should decide what reading material is appropriate for you — not your teacher, as well-meaning as she may be. When I was growing up, no literature in our home was off limits to me or my brother, and any questions we asked received straightforward answers. I hope it's the same for you, because children learn their family's values through frank and open communication.