Dear Abby: I’m terrified my son may learn the secrets of my past

Dear Abby counsels a parent who's son wants to read their private journals.
Dear Abby counsels a parent who's son wants to read their private journals.

DEAR ABBY: During my late teens and most of my 20s, I kept journals that filled two full spiral-bound notebooks. I kept them my entire life before reading them for the first time on my recent 70th birthday. I found it to be an enlightening journey through my past on a very personal level, dealing with the highs and lows of those tumultuous years.

I told my youngest son, who is now in the middle of that stage of life and dealing with some of the same things I did, about my journals, and he asked if he could read them. My wife says I should let him, but I’m conflicted about it.

On the one hand, they would show him he’s not the only one who faces these life challenges, which may help him deal with them and in some ways get to know me better.

On the other hand, these are things (some quite intimate) that weren’t intended to be read by someone else, much less my kid. If I do this, then what about my other two adult sons, who have no idea the notebooks exist? Your thoughts? — CONFLICTED ON THE COAST

DEAR CONFLICTED: Because you feel conflicted about sharing the entire contents of your journals with your son(s), why not simply impart the important lessons you were reminded of as you read them? That way, you can skip the embarrassing parts and simply pass along the hard-earned wisdom from which your sons could benefit.

DEAR ABBY: I have often seen letters in your column from men and women concerned about how divorce affects their children, and rightfully so. As the child of parents who stayed together too long, I can state, from my perspective, it is not always for the best.

Children are aware of tension in the household and it is often damaging — at least it was for my sister and me. We are still trying to break the pattern of the submissive behavior my mom exhibited to keep peace in the household.

My father had a temper, and no one ever wanted to cross him. I can state honestly that my brother, sister and I were relieved when Dad finally moved out. Our lives became much more peaceful and stable. My dad was never physically abusive, but he definitely controlled everything.

Once he moved out and we didn’t have to live with him anymore, we all had a better relationship with him. Kids know and feel more than adults believe they do. People need to give their children more credit than they do. Do you agree? — LEAVING’S BETTER IN MICHIGAN

DEAR LEAVING’S BETTER: Yes, I do agree. Children sense the tension between their parents, grow up believing it is normal and sometimes model the same scenario as adults when choosing mates, which is not healthy.

DEAR READERS: This is my timely reminder for all of you who live where daylight saving time is observed: Don’t forget to turn your clocks forward one hour tonight at bedtime. Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday. I look forward to it each year because it signals longer, brighter days and warmer weather. I find the extra light to be a mood elevator and an energizer. Spring is almost sprung! — LOVE, ABBY

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