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Dear Abby: Our regular dinners with another family have turned miserable



Satisfying every picky eater requires a lot of cooking, and the guests tend to talk about subjects unfit for our children.

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend who enjoys getting her family together with mine. We used to take turns doing dinners at each other’s houses. However, she, her kids and her husband are extremely picky eaters. They don’t all like the same things, so I’m usually cooking three meals when they come over.

The more I’ve gotten to know them, the more I realize our values and opinions on certain major issues are very, very different. I no longer enjoy their company at all and don’t feel comfortable with my young children hearing some of the conversations around these issues. I feel miserable leading up to every get-together, and so does my husband. However, she’s clingy! I have canceled the last three times we were supposed to get together, and she doesn’t get the message. How can I unfriend her without crushing her? I honestly don’t want to hurt her, but I am fried! — SO OVER IT IN THE SOUTH

DEAR SO OVER IT: Because this woman is unable to intuit that the atmosphere has changed, you will have to explain it to her. Start by telling her that preparing three separate meals to cater to her family’s tastes has become too much for you. If necessary, follow it up with the fact that you no longer want your children exposed to the dinner conversation, which prohibits you from having them over. Those are valid reasons, and as long as you don’t mention that the thought of seeing her and her husband makes you and your husband miserable, she shouldn’t be “crushed.” Do not, however, expect her to take the news easily.

DEAR ABBY: I’m the mother of an 8-year-old with autism. A few months ago, I was ALSO diagnosed with autism. While I viewed this news for the most part in a rather positive light, I also have some mixed feelings.

The good: This diagnosis finally explains everything about the way I’ve behaved my entire life. The not-so-good: I feel betrayed to an extent by my parents for allowing so many doctors to tell me I had disorders and illnesses I never had (per the person who diagnosed me with autism) and for letting me be pumped full of so many medications from childhood all the way through college. I feel my parents caused me emotional AND physical harm (especially physical because of all those meds).

While I’m glad to know the truth about why I’m the way I am, I can’t help but be furious with them for allowing something that may have caused me irreparable damage. How can I deal with this now? — ON THE SPECTRUM IN TEXAS

DEAR ON THE SPECTRUM: Your parents believed the (many) “experts” they consulted. The doctors misdiagnosed you. That is regrettable, but now you know what you are dealing with, it’s time to concentrate on your future instead of the past. If your current physician can’t help you with this, ask to be referred to someone who can help you to dissipate your anger. It would be far more therapeutic for you than blaming your parents at this late date.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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