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Dear Donnie,

When my husband and I got married, he had full custody of his infant son. The court ordered the mother to contribute child support until he turned 21. She sent money for a long time then stopped. We love him, are proud of him and we’ve been there for him through thick and thin. Our son is 17 now and has never heard one word from his birth mother. She remarried, lives in another state and has two other children.  

Through an internet search, his half-brother contacted him and asked to come meet us and attend our son’s graduation. I told him not to come at that time as we would have a house full and lots of graduation activities. I wanted all the focus on our son who is an outstanding honor student and it was his big day.

The brother came later and the two of them had a great time together hiking, biking, fishing, playing video games and going to the movies. They also spent hours just talking and getting to know each other. My problem now is that Mark wants to go and meet his mother and her other child. Do you think that is a good idea? My husband and I can’t decide what is best.  


Loving Mother

Dear Loving Mother,

You are to be commended for taking on this baby when you were a bride. Did your son know that his birth mother wanted nothing to do with him? Did he even know that he had another mother and a brother? It appears that you and your husband provided a loving home for him and it must hurt to know that his mother rejected him. Your husband should respect your judgement at the very least.

Since the boys had such a good time together, I would suggest you continue to invite his half-brother to visit your family rather than have your son meet his other mother. That visit should be carefully planned. Why did she quit sending money since the court ordered her to continue until the boy turns 21? She shirked her duty and owes you an explanation at the very least. Until you know more about her and her emotional stability, I would not let your son visit her unaccompanied. Does she even want him to visit? Put your son’s welfare first and don’t give up until your husband supports you. There is a lot at stake.

Dear Donnie,

Our 16-year-old daughter has a steady boyfriend who is 18. His mother took them both to Planned Parenthood without consulting me. Don’t you think this was disrespectful to me? I also think it will just encourage them to have sex. I think 16 is way too young to have sex or a serious relationship. Am I over protective or naïve?


Possibly Naïve

Dear Ms. Naïve,

Unfortunately, times have changed, and young people are having sex at a much younger age than in the past. Biologically they are ready, but not mature emotionally. No parent wants their teenager to have to deal with unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Planned Parenthood does an excellent job of sex education and birth control options. That is a difficult conversation for most parents and most teenagers don’t want their parents involved. They fear a lecture, or they fear they will be shamed or embarrassed.

The boy’s mother was wrong to exclude you from this experience, but wise to teach her son his responsibility. Too many parents put the entire burden on the girl. You don’t know if your daughter is sexually active. But whether she is or not, the information from Planned Parenthood will benefit her. Be the mother she can confide in and trust.

Dear Donnie,

My husband is a decent, hard-working man, but he has become increasingly withdrawn. He never wants to have a real conversation about family matters or anything else. He gives one-word answers to my questions and never asks about me or our children. How can I get him to open up and show that he cares? I’m tired of getting the silent treatment.


Sad in Silence

Dear Sad,

Lack of communication is a serious problem in a marriage. Don’t let this continue. He may be clinically depressed or have other health issues. Get him to a good doctor right away. After that schedule an appointment with a marriage counselor and make sure he goes with you. Silence is toxic and will kill intimacy. I’m also sorry for your children.  They need attention and affection from both parents. Until he wants to talk to you, keep telling him how his behavior affects the whole family and without a change he could lose all of you. Good luck.

Dear Donnie,

Our neighbor rarely talks to us and now she is suing us because she thinks our college-aged son ran into her fancy car. She has no proof and my son adamantly denies it. It could have been anybody, but she won’t back down. She parks on the street because her garage is full of stuff. I asked her to come out and inspect my son’s car. It has no dents or scratches or even any paint marks. My husband can’t stand conflict, so he wants to settle. I am dead set against it. Advice please.


Standing my Ground

Dear Standing,  

Settling is the same as admitting that you don’t trust your son. He needs your support right now. Your neighbor is a bully and you need to call her bluff. Don’t let your insurance company convince you that it is better to settle. It is expensive to go to court, but a judge will not award her damages with no physical evidence. Show your son that doing what is right is better than giving in to a bully. Your neighbor should put her stuff in storage and park her car in her garage where it will be safe. I would have as little as possible to do with her from now on.

After a busy involved life in Carpinteria, Donnie Nair is embracing carefree living near family in Paso Robles. Her column appears the third Thursday of the month. Questions are subject to editing, and not all will be answered.

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