Punishment for abusive father must be left up to his wife
Dear Annie: My wife is one of four sisters, all of whom were molested by their father between the ages of 7 and 17. She and her sister "Sally" were the two youngest, and they were the ones who ended up with the most abuse.
This has been eating at me (and the other husbands) for the past 20 years. My wife's emotional scars and nervous habits are still noticeable. I know their mother knew about the abuse, because when they confronted her 15 years ago, she yelled at them and said, "There are certain things you don't tell your husbands."
I very badly want to go to the cops or get a lawyer and make their father pay for psychiatric help for everyone. I don't understand why an insurance company should have to pay when the person responsible is well off and able to walk the streets freely. Your help would be appreciated. Confused with Morals
Dear Confused: We understand your outrage, but this must be your wife's decision. Any action you take without her approval will only create more problems for her, and we know you don't want that. We agree that Dad should not get off without taking responsibility for his abuse and making amends. Your wife is apparently in counseling, which is good, so suggest she discuss with her counselor how to deal with Dad, and then please abide by her decision. She needs you to support her choices, whatever they are.
Dear Annie: My mother-in-law has a social anxiety that makes visits increasingly difficult. Try as we might, we are running out of patience.
For the past seven years, Mom slowly has been regressing to her bedroom. Our children used to have a grandmother who baked and taught them fun and interesting things. Now she just smokes and watches TV in bed. When we visit, we must sit on the end of the bed or stand around in her room.
I am not a heartless person, but I no longer feel comfortable visiting too often. We are required to call ahead, and most times she gives us the "I don't feel like visitors" line. Yet if we don't come by frequently enough, she calls and chews us out. What do we do? Torn
Dear Torn: First, has your mother-in-law spoken to a therapist? Would she be amenable to medication? Contact the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (adaa.org), 8730 Georgia Avenue, Suite 600, Silver Spring, MD 20910, for information and assistance. Meanwhile, please do what you can to visit. Mom cannot control her anxiety without professional intervention, so bring folding chairs into the bedroom and you won't be standing around on one foot waiting to leave.
Dear Annie: I am writing in response to "Heartsick Parents," whose daughter went to college and came back a lesbian. My beautiful and very intelligent daughter was engaged and living with her fianc & eacute;, but when I came home from a short vacation, she had moved back home and announced she was gay.
Tell "Heartsick" their daughter is the same beautiful woman they raised. Just because she dresses or looks different does not mean she isn't beautiful inside. I almost lost my daughter because she believed I did not accept her choice. She moved across the country, and we did not speak for six months. She now lives closer to home. She and her partner have been together for five years, and I have delightful 18-month-old twin granddaughters (through artificial insemination). I love my daughter and her family with all my heart.
I truly do not understand this lifestyle, but they are as stable and happy as any married couple I know. Love your children no matter what life they choose. It is still hard for me, but it would be harder to live without my daughter in my life. Accepted It in Missouri
Dear Accepted: Bless you for putting things in the proper perspective. We hope other parents are listening.
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