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Older parents seek friendships

Dear Abby: We are in our late 40s and have two elementary school-age children. My husband and I are actively involved in our church and at our children's school. However, we have no friends we can just hang out with. We used to be part of a small group of friends from church, but one family had a falling out with the others. Somehow we got dragged into it, and now no one interacts with us anymore.

When I was working, we could afford to have the kids in activities but there wasn't much time. Now that I am not working the time is there, but not the money. We'd love to have friends, but we don't know how to resolve this.

-- Left Behind in Sparks, Nev.

Dear Left Behind: Why not invite your children's friends and their parents over? You already have something in common with them. If that doesn't work, a way to make new friends would be to sign your children up for affordable extracurricular activities such as YMCA, YWCA, Little League or Scouting. That way, you'll meet other parents with similar interests. Another alternative would be for you and your husband to join a service club so you can meet others who contribute to the community. You will widen your circle of acquaintances, which can lead to friendships.

> Keep being courteous

Dear Abby: Whenever I see a pregnant woman or an elderly person in line behind me who seems uncomfortable or tired, I always want to let them go ahead of me. Is this regarded as a nice gesture, or does it make them feel pathetic and helpless? I do it with the best intentions, but I don't want to offend anyone.

-- Rachel in Tennessee

Dear Rachel: It's regarded as a thoughtful gesture. If someone feels that your deference is offensive, then he or she is free to refuse your generous offer. And if that happens -- which I doubt will happen frequently -- do not blame yourself for having extended the courtesy.