Sunday, January 31, 2010
Dear Annie: After 30 years of a turbulent marriage, my ex-wife and I had an amicable divorce. Before the ink was dry, she remarried. I later married a beautiful young woman. My daughter, who is 10 years older than my new wife, became quite upset over this, and our relationship quickly deteriorated.
Eventually, my daughter wrote to say she didn’t know me anymore and already had a dad (meaning my ex’s new husband). My lovely wife is terribly upset because she fears it’s her fault — that she came between my daughter and me. I believe this is the exact reaction my daughter is hoping for — to make my wife feel guilty.
I do not have my daughter’s current address or phone number, although I could probably find it if need be. I am upset about the situation, but if she really no longer wants me in her life, I don’t want to push it. Any advice? C.C.
Dear C.C.: Your daughter is testing you, and although she is behaving selfishly and childishly, please don’t throw in the towel. It will only confirm her worst fear — that you no longer need her in your life because you’ve replaced her with your new, younger wife. If you are on good terms with your ex, please discuss it with her and suggest she help your daughter accept your marriage. Also continue to stay in touch with your daughter and tell her you love her, regardless of her response. Time can heal this if you don’t give up.
Dear Annie: My younger brother is married with three kids. The problem is, he and his wife expect my parents to pick up their kids and spend time with them frequently. They become angry when my parents aren’t able to do this as often as they’d like.
Annie, my parents have 23 grandchildren. For them to spend that kind of time with each of them would be impossible. They always offer to baby-sit when my brother and his wife go out. They never miss a birthday or Christmas. But my sister-in-law says if my parents don’t start being “doting grandparents,” they will be written off.
When we were kids, my grandparents did not spend tons of time with us for the same reasons my parents don’t. My parents are beside themselves because they really do love all of their grandchildren and are fair to each of them. Whatever happened to children respecting their parents? What can we do? Concerned Sister
Dear Concerned: Some parents think the world begins and ends with their children. When your parents say they are busy, or that they need to spend time with the other grandchildren, your brother and his wife become offended and angry. Your siblings who have children might try talking to your brother. Perhaps they can help him understand that he should accept his parents as they are and encourage a closer relationship instead of making threats. Keeping the grandparents away hurts his children, too.
Dear Annie: I think you missed on your response to “Don’t Want To Go,” the sibling whose sisters scheduled a birthday party for their 90-year-old mother in Florida on Christmas Eve.
It is unreasonable to expect other families to put aside their holiday plans and spend thousands to travel at the most expensive time of the year. It is true that they are missing an opportunity for a great family time, and who knows how many more birthdays Mom may have, but these arguments raise feelings of guilt by which we are all manipulated into doing things we really should not. The sibling has a right to say, “Go ahead without me. I will make it up to you later, Mom,” and send a nice card and a gift, and then call. Those sisters should understand. M.K.
Dear M.K.: We agree it is an imposition, and if it’s impossible to arrange, so be it. But sometimes these things are worth the effort. They may not be able to make it up to Mom “later.”
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