Mother’s duty is to protect her son


DEAR ABBY: I have started seeing a guy I love very much. I’ll call him “Mitch.” We spend a lot of time together. I have stayed with him while my 2-year-old son, “Caleb,” visits his daddy.

I recently introduced Caleb to Mitch, and last weekend we both stayed at Mitch’s place. The problem is, Mitch has a large dog that is very territorial and protective and isn’t used to company. The dog, “Crusher,” has shown aggression toward me, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle. However, the dog is now being aggressive toward Caleb. On a couple of occasions, Crusher charged my son and left scratches.

Mitch and I have resorted to separating the two when Caleb is over. By “separating,” I mean we have brought a few of Caleb’s toys and his TV to set up in a room just for him. The problem is, Caleb is in the room with the door closed most of the time, while Crusher runs free in the house.

Abby, my son’s life was turned upside down when my husband and I divorced. Now he has had to adjust to the fact that when he’s with Mitch and me, he must be carried around for fear of the dog. I haven’t come out and asked Mitch to get rid of Crusher, or even to limit him when we are in the house. Is this something I have a right to ask?

Mitch has been a bachelor all his life, and I’m afraid if I confront him about this he will feel I am making him choose between me and his dog. Please give me some advice. – TORN IN TWO IN OKLAHOMA

It is your duty as Caleb’s mother to make sure that he is safe at all times. Your little boy is only 2 and can’t speak on his own behalf. Shutting a child alone in a room “most of the time” isn’t protecting him – it is neglect. If you do not confront your boyfriend about his dangerous animal, you are choosing him and his dog over your son!

The wrong critter is being confined. When Caleb was attacked the first time, your boyfriend should have volunteered to confine his dog. That he didn’t is appalling. That you said nothing is worse. As a mother, your child’s interests must come before your love interest.

DEAR ABBY: How would you handle someone who shuns sick people? My mother-in-law does not like sick people and goes out of her way to shun them.

When my husband and I were planning our wedding, my mother was terminally ill, and his mother said some negative things about my mother attending our wedding. Recently, our son had minor surgery, and when my husband called to tell his mother about it, she said, “Thanks for calling,” and hung up!

Do I just accept this is how she is and move on, or should I ask my husband to talk to her? If you print this, please do not use my name. – OFFENDED IN VIRGINIA

DEAR OFFENDED: All right, your mother-in-law is tactless. However, she is also phobic about being around anyone who is sick or possibly in pain. Unless she would be willing to get treatment for her phobia – which I strongly doubt – you should accept her as she is. Her quirk is unfortunate, but not all that uncommon.

P.S. What goes around usually comes around. Let’s hope when her time comes, she goes quickly, because with her track record it doesn’t look like she’ll have much company.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)