DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My wife and I recently welcomed a beautiful baby into this world -- the centre of our universe. My parents love our child like their own. The issue lies with my wife's mother. She is a functioning/closeted alcoholic, has a drunk for a boyfriend, and comes around whenever she chooses, or when it's convenient for her. Since our child's birth, she came to visit for a few minutes in the hospital, and hasn't seen our baby since. She will call, and make plans for the next day, but never follow through, or makes excuses not to come visit. I'm thinking: Either she should get sober (which she has tried in the past) or see a doctor (she says she has), and be a regular part of our lives and make an effort to know her grandchild, or not come around ever, and never be apart of our lives. I'd prefer the latter option. My biggest fear is that she will let down or hurt our child due to her choices in life, and I never want my kid to experience that. How do I fix this? -- Protective First-time Parent, Rural Manitoba
Dear Protective: Cutting a mother off is like the amputation of a limb for a son or daughter, so don't push that idea. You can't take it upon yourself to issue an ultimatum that could possibly stop your wife from seeing her own mother, drinking or sober. Don't even voice that idea; you could lose some of your wife's love. You're the lucky one! You have a mother in your corner and a good one. Look, your baby will never be in jeopardy as long as you agree with your wife this drinking grandmother doesn't get to babysit alone. It sounds like she doesn't want the responsibility anyway. Don't ruin your happy family times now by worrying. Just cuddle your wife and the baby, and let your daughter deal with her mother. One suggestion to make to your wife: Al-Anon is a group for the friends and loved ones of alcoholics. She might want to attend some meetings to learn how to cope.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I am divorced with children for several years, now dating a widower for half a year, who also has two small children as well. We met three years after his wife died of cancer, and so far we have a wonderful relationship. To be honest I'm just worried he still is not over his late wife's passing. He talks about her often, which I have no issues with; even though she is gone, she's the kids' mother and I respect that. The problem is he still has pictures of her all over the house, which makes me very uncomfortable. I'm not expecting him to get rid of the pictures -- maybe keep some pictures of her and the kids out, but put the ones of him and her in an album. I also have not yet met any of his family, nor his friends. I worry he's hiding me because of the backlash he may get because he's dating again. He is an amazing person and I feel I am falling in love with him? Can you help? -- Very Confused
Dear Confused: Keeping you hidden from friends and family is a bigger problem than the photos. Either he's afraid of how they might treat you, having known his wife, or he may be scared they will decide you're his next wife! Six months with you is a short time, too short to make a big commitment. But, you can rightfully insist there be no photos in the same room where you're making love. He may think about that over a few days, and start moving some of the others as well. It's a gradual thing and the act of taking the photos down is hard. Also, tell him you want to know if you'll be meeting his family by Christmas. See what response that gets. If he gets a startled "Oh no!" look on his face, then you need to ask him outright if you're just a friend-with-benefits. It's good to know the truth no matter how tough it is. He may not be introducing you to friends and family because he doesn't think of you as a keeper. Don't remain part of that heartbreaking situation.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I can see in my neighbour's front window. Sometimes they are fighting. On the weekend I saw him hit her and she fell to the floor. I almost called the cops, but she got up again, and he took off in the car. What should I do? She is a lovely woman. My husband says to mind my own business, but I saw what I saw. -- Worried Sick About Her, Elmwood
Dear Worried Sick: When you know the husband has gone off to work, go over to see her and tell her you saw him strike her. Give her the number for the crisis line at Osborne House (204-942-3737) and Ikwe Widdjitiwin (204-987-2780) and tell her to put it in a safe hiding place. If she tells you to go away, consider this: Anyone in the province can call the Manitoba Association of Women's Shelters' confidential, toll-free line at 1-877-977-0007 if they know of someone who is being abused. Their multi-faceted website is at www.maws.mb.ca. Read it so you can tell her about the contents. Let her know that website also shows how to wipe out any trace of being on the site.