Annie's Mailbox: Grandparents have found grandson's real father

Dear Annie: I have raised my grandson since he was an infant. He is 24 now and doing well. Our daughter (his mother) passed away when he was 12. He does not remember his father.

All these years, we had no idea where his dad was. Our grandson claims to be angry with him, but we know he is also hurt. I'm sure he wonders about his father and would like to hear from him.

Just recently, my wife and I found out his dad is alive and well. At our age, if we do not get them together, our grandson may lose the chance forever. I'd like to help them connect, but my wife says to leave it alone. Please let me know what you would do. Your opinion means a lot to us.

- Needs To See Daddy or Not

Dear Needs: We appreciate the vote of confidence. Your grandson is 24, and we think he should be allowed to make this decision himself. Tell him you've discovered his father's whereabouts. Discuss the pros and cons, and ask whether he'd like to try to establish contact. If he says "yes," give him the information and let him know you are available if he wants your help. If he says "no," put the information in a sealed envelope and let your grandson know where it is in case he changes his mind. Whichever choice he makes, please be a source of support.

Dear Annie: When did all this hugging start? I was taught that public displays of affection were not socially acceptable and that you don't shake hands with a lady unless she offers her hand.

I am uncomfortable when someone wants to greet me with a hug. I had my bladder removed because of cancer and now wear a pouch. Hugging is embarrassing. How can I just shake hands without offending anyone?

- Find a Tree Instead

Dear Find: Greeting someone with a hug has been around for a few decades, but not everyone enjoys it, and for some it can be too intimate. When approached by a hugger, simply grasp his shoulder with your left hand while reaching with your right to shake his hand. Your left arm will keep him from getting any closer, but you will still appear friendly. If a hugger becomes insistent, it is perfectly OK to say, "Sorry, but I am uncomfortable hugging."

Dear Annie: I was concerned with what you didn't say to "Worried Mom," whose 14-year-old is involved with a potentially abusive boyfriend. This girl should not be allowed to spend time alone with this manipulator. She's still a child. Who is the parent here? Where are the boy's parents?

Both parents should arrange a meeting without the teenagers to discuss their concerns and lay down specific ground rules for these young people. I'm glad the girl is in counseling, but it sounds as if it's a necessity for the young man, as well.

Parenting is the most difficult job there is, but someone needs to develop a spine and take control of this situation before that is no longer an option. Yes, she should reinforce her feelings for her daughter, but at this age, what the boyfriend says is more influential. Teenagers need just as much guidance as toddlers.

- Concerned Reader

Dear Reader: We wish it were that simple. Telling a 14-year-old who is "in love" that she is forbidden to see the boyfriend will not make the problem disappear. It will make it go underground. The boy's parents are encouraging the relationship and are not likely to help, although it's possible that speaking to them could be useful. We hope the boy will get counseling, but more importantly, the girl needs to understand that this is a poisonous relationship and she deserves better. Otherwise, the parents are only postponing the inevitable.

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