Dear Annie: Six years ago, I divorced my alcoholic, workaholic husband and became a single parent. My ex has regular visitation, but I am the one who handles all the sick days, school conferences, injuries, etc. He never bothers. Shortly after the divorce, I had to take a job at a much lower salary. There were times when I wondered how we would eat and stay warm.

When my ex married his third wife, he decided my son didn’t need a bedroom at his place. His wife’s kids have three of the four bedrooms in their home, and my son sleeps on the couch when he visits.

Our son is an amazing boy. He recently was accepted into a prestigious magnet school for gifted kids. The problem is, although his tuition is paid for, there is a bill for room and board. When I brought this up with my ex, I was treated to a lecture about how the father of one of his wife’s children doesn’t pay child support, so he has been supporting him since she quit her job to be a stay-at-home mom. This is his excuse for not helping with our son’s schooling.

Annie, am I wrong to think he should be thinking first of his own child? Mind you, he still takes beachfront vacations with his wife and her kids. Why am I the one who makes all the sacrifices? He pays regular child support, and I am grateful, but it doesn’t cover everything.

Our son is extremely gifted, and I fear his gift won’t be nurtured in the local public high school, which has a terrible reputation. Even my ex agrees.

I finally got a raise, and I worry that my ex will try to have his support payments reduced. I have applied for financial aid for the school bill. Am I wrong to ask my ex for help, or am I just being a bitter ex-wife? — Worn-Out Mom

Dear Worn Out: Your son is lucky to have such a loving mother as his advocate. There is a difference between the basics of what parents are obligated to do and the extra benefits that come from doing more. It would be wonderful if your husband would help with the school bill, but unfortunately, he doesn’t have to. Your best approach would be to ask him sweetly, focusing on how this school could create a better future for his son. But we hope the financial aid package comes through.

Dear Annie: If a person is recovering from a back injury and has constant pain and trouble walking, standing and sitting, is it OK to skip the funeral of a relative? If so, how much explaining do I have to do when family members inquire judgmentally? — N.Y., N.Y.

Dear N.Y.: If it’s a fifth cousin twice removed whom you haven’t seen in 20 years, you don’t have to attend, and you don’t need to say why. If it’s your grandmother, you need to apologize, explain the circumstances and tell the family you would have crawled on your knees to attend if it had been physically possible. We recommend you send a card of condolence with a handwritten note saying how important this relative was in your life, and perhaps a donation to the deceased’s favorite charity.

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