Different lifestyles: She can’t be what her sister expects

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DEAR ABBY: My sister “Penny” and I live in different states and lead completely different lives. We have grown distant over the years — my choice really.

Penny isn’t a bad person. She just doesn’t “get” my lifestyle. I have decided to remain unmarried and childless. A husband and family are all Penny ever wanted, and she considers it an insult that I don’t want the life she always dreamed about for herself.

I would like to spend time with my sister — occasionally — but she has a different personality, no close friends and feels we MUST have a close relationship because we’re sisters. Abby, I don’t want to be her replacement for the friends she is unable to make.

Penny complains that I never visit. But when I do, we’re both miserable, tend to provoke each other and get under each other’s skin. I love her, but it isn’t productive for us to spend a lot of time together. I would like to have a less stressful relationship with her and my new nephew. What can I do to make this happen? — HORSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR IN WYOMING

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DEAR HORSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR: By being frank with your sister and telling her exactly what you have told me. You CAN have a less stressful relationship with her, but it will require some compromise on the part of each of you. Explain to her that you do not have it in you to provide the closeness she appears so desperate for and perhaps she will finally accept what you are willing and able to give her. It may lessen the tension between you.

DEAR ABBY: We’re planning a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for my parents. My son “Mark” and his girlfriend, “Cindy,” have been a couple for six years and have a 3-year-old son. They live in another town and plan to be married after Mark gets his degree.

Abby, my father was never told about the birth of Mark and Cindy’s child, per strict orders from my mother. Because Dad adheres to the values and morals he learned as a young man in the 1950s, Mom is afraid he would “have a stroke” if he knew.

Mom refuses to allow Mark and Cindy to bring their son to the party because Dad still doesn’t know. All of the other great-grandchildren will be there and included in the photos. This seems unfair and heartless. What can I do? — ANONYMOUS IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Depriving your father of knowledge that he has a great-grandchild has not only been unfair to the child, but also unfair to your father. The news will NOT “kill” him. He made it through the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, didn’t he? At this point, he may be surprised, but by now NOTHING will shock him. What may disturb him is learning that this was kept from him for so long.

You should insist that he be told. Your grandson is not a guilty secret. He deserves to know his great-grandfather while there is still time. And if your mother won’t tell your father, then you should do it — before the party.

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.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” To order, send a business-sized, self- addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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