DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: This is in response to the letter about the boy whose stepmom is using him as the workhorse in the family. This is truly sad and very close to what my own son went through. Dad was no help as he was on the same page as stepmom, but played the victim role himself, leaving all the kids to think she was the evil one while they were all treated badly. My son eventually left but still thinks poor dad is having to live with that awful lady. Hopefully that isn't the case here and dad steps up with the kids, to tell stepmom to cut it out... and makes it an abuse-free home. -- Seen It Myself, Winnipeg
Dear Seen It: When a dad sits by passively while his son is being abused by the mother or stepmother, the child learns bad lessons about adults of both sexes. While the abusing parent usually comes up in therapy as the first villain, it can take years of therapy before the adult child finally gets angry with the parent who could have stopped it. Too often the abused boy/man thinks "we were all in it together, feeling scared of her," like Dad had no more power than the kids. The only solution is to leave home early and defer or perhaps forgo further education. Actually, Dad has a lot more power than the kids think, if only he had stood up and exercised it.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I was walking up the steps to my house when I discovered a red envelope hanging out of the mailbox. It came from a married woman I worked with at my last job and it was a card with a love letter. She said she hadn't dared to say anything while we still worked together, but she had "fallen deeply in love" with me. She went on to list my qualities and how attracted she was to me and that she often dreamed of me. She seemed to think it was a done deal when she said, "I know you are a lesbian." Well, I may be "out" about my sexuality, and I may not have a woman in my life right now, but that doesn't mean I want any woman who offers. How should I reply to this, or should I even bother? -- Brought Up To Be Polite, River Heights
Dear Polite: You owe her nothing more than a return card that is kind and polite, but nothing worth keeping as a treasure. Your words on a blank card with a spring nature scene might be. "Thanks for your interest and compliments, but I am not interested on my side. Hope you enjoy the coming spring weather." It's not even necessary to sign it as a signature is treasured and personal. That's about as neutral and as clear as you can be. Send it off fast, so she gets her answer and you have been kind and not left her hanging.
Questions or comments? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or send letters c/o Miss Lonelyhearts, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg R2X 3B6