Bypass stepmother to contact estranged father

Dear Annie: My father walked out on our family 24 years ago in order to be with another woman. I tried to have a relationship with him, and for a couple of years, we lived across the street from each other and things weren’t too bad.

Dad and his wife owned my house. I was living with a cop at the time and discovered that my stepmother was having an affair with him. I confronted her, and she said no one would believe me. She was right. I threw my boyfriend out of the house and told my father, but his response was to send me an eviction notice. My daughter and I were tossed out in the cold. Dad and his wife threw a party on the day we left.

I have since moved on with my life and have had no contact with either of them in two years. I married a wonderful man and am very happy except for one thing: I would like my daughter to know her grandfather. However, I refuse to have any contact with my stepmother. She is a master manipulator and has to have her nose in everyone’s business. My father is not in good health, and I may not have much longer to work on this. How do I make my dad a part of our lives without involving his wife? Still Out in the Cold

Dear Still: Please understand that your father may not be receptive to a reconciliation. And no matter how culpable his wife may be in creating this estrangement, Dad has made no effort to re-establish contact. If you are willing to accept the downside, we suggest you contact him directly, bypassing your stepmother. Say you still care about him and would like his grandchild to get to know him. We hope he is interested.

Dear Annie: My wife doesn’t clean. When she was young, her parents told her that if she wanted an allowance, she’d have to do chores to earn it. She opted to go without the money. Today, while she’s wonderfully frugal, she won’t lift a finger around the house.

I was raised to value cleanliness, so I constantly find myself doing the laundry, dishes, vacuuming and so on. Whenever I see an article about husbands who don’t help around the house, I want to scream. How can I convince my wife that it’s important to keep a clean house and lend a hand? Housework Hubby

Dear Hubby: Spouses have an obligation to contribute to the upkeep of the home. Often, one spouse does the majority of the housework. If you resent it, however, show your wife how to use the washer, dryer, dishwasher, vacuum and any other appliance. She needs to be taught these things and held responsible for her own mess. We assume she has a full-time job outside the home. If so, another option, if she can afford it, is to hire a housekeeper. She might prefer it.

Dear Annie: My mother could probably write a letter like the one from “Sad Sandie.” She said her daughter is cold and distant and becomes punitive if Mom says anything negative about the grandchildren’s conduct.

For decades, I tried to please my mother. I took her on trips, gave her thoughtful gifts, improved her home safety, helped her after she fell and broke her hip, and looked into assisted living for her and my dad. No matter what I did, vitriol and criticism were my thanks. I finally came to terms with Mom’s inability to show love and kindness, and I have stopped trying. I am respectful and do my duty, but the well is empty. Perhaps the coldness that “Sad Sandie” feels from her daughter is just acceptance. Peaceful Daughter

Dear Peaceful: Hypercritical parents rarely see themselves as their children do. We hope someday your mother can appreciate you.

• E-mail your questions to or write to: Annie’s Mailbox‚Ñ¢, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

Creators Syndicate