DEAR ABBY: My son “Darren” is 13 and has been obese for several years. I have tried many ways to help him lose weight. He was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea and uses a CPAP machine at night to help him breathe. Darren’s doctors have told me it’s extremely important that our whole family be included in lifestyle and diet changes in order to help our son.

My husband, Harry, however, refuses to be involved. He continues to bring home junk food and eat it in front of Darren and me. My son and I are going to an informational meeting about yet another program. I asked Harry to come with us. His answer was, “Why should I pay someone to tell me something I already know?” along with complaints about how hard he works and how he just wants to come home and not attend another meeting.

Harry says he supports us, but he doesn’t give us any real, meaningful support. Actions speak louder than words. This has been going on for too long. I’m tired of his arrogance and denial concerning Darren’s health. I have told Harry this and suggested counseling – but he just blows me off. Any suggestions? – CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE

Go ahead with the counseling without your husband. You are not the person caught in the middle here; your son is. His physical problems are life-threatening and he needs all the support he can get. Obesity is a family problem, and you and Darren need to understand why his father is deliberately sabotaging him.

It takes real effort to learn to make healthy food choices, prepare it in ways that may be different from how you learned to cook, and to present it in a way that is appealing. If your husband insists on bringing home junk food, you can’t stop him. But he should not be allowed to eat it in front of you and your son. In order to accomplish what you must, you may need assertiveness training. And that’s where the counselor comes in. Please don’t wait. Start NOW.

DEAR ABBY: I ended a relationship with “Bill” after I discovered evidence that he was also sleeping with another woman. I later learned that Bill had had multiple relationships while he was with me. I also found out that almost everything he’d told me about his life was a half-truth.

As part of a healing process, I apologized to Bill’s ex-wife, “Donna,” for any pain my relationship with him had caused her. She was generous and reached out to assure me I had been the victim of a diagnosed sexual psychopath. Donna told me she had discovered 17 victims during her marriage to Bill. Through therapy, she learned he was expert at taking control of women by making them at first feel needed, and later unstable when his facade began to crack. It took Donna 25 years to gain the courage to file for divorce against him.

During my relationship with Bill, I transformed from a confident professional woman to someone who doubted all of her decisions. I’m happy to be rid of him, but I have learned that he has recently gotten engaged.

I feel I should warn his new victim. She’s a good woman, and I know she thinks he’s a wonderful person. Friends and family tell me to keep silent because she won’t believe me and I should not put myself at risk. Some guidance, please. – NO LONGER A VICTIM IN NEW YORK

Your family has a point. The woman may not want to hear, nor want to believe, what you are trying to convey. However, you, Bill’s ex-wife, and as many of the women he has taken advantage of as the two of you can gather should arrange a get-together and let her know what she’s in for. After that, to paraphrase Dorothy Parker, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make her think.”

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.

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