Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: My son is being emotionally tortured by his teenage daughters. He has been divorced from their mother for years, but has always been there for his children. He’s never missed a support payment and shares responsibility for them.
Now the 17-year-old is terrorizing him. My son recently remarried, and the girl hates his wife, who happens to be a very nice young woman. The teenager also encourages her younger sister to do the same. It got so bad that his new wife had to tell my granddaughter that she was no longer welcome in their home. All this nasty behavior is being encouraged by the ex-wife.
How can I help? I’m a grandparent trapped in the middle. I don’t want to lose my granddaughter by taking my son’s side in front of her, but I can hardly sit back and see him hurt over and over by her awful behavior. I love her and her sister, too. What should I do? — Lost in Frustration
Dear Lost: It is not uncommon for children of divorced parents to wish their parents would get back together. When your son remarried, it interfered with your granddaughter’s fantasy world, and she is punishing him, hoping to break up his marriage and put things back the way they were. Unfortunately, the more likely scenario is that she will create a long-term estrangement from her father.
Urge your son to get counseling for both his children to help them deal with their hostility and remaining problems with the divorce. If they are too difficult to have around the new wife, Dad should visit them outside his home. He should not stop seeing them regardless of their horrific behavior, since that will only exacerbate their anger and sense of abandonment. As the grandmother, please stay close to those girls, and help them mature into understanding and tolerant adults.
Dear Annie: Please tell me how to handle this. Last year, we gave our son a big graduation party and invited lots of friends and tons of relatives. Of all the family members, including aunts and cousins, only two showed up. Yet when another nephew had a graduation party two weeks later, all of these same relatives were there. Do these people not realize the hurt feelings this causes?
We have now been invited to a delayed graduation party for a niece whose parents did not bother to come to our event. Frankly, we don’t feel like attending.
This kind of slight has happened before with these family members, but we attended their events anyway out of obligation. We felt resentful and still do. If we decide not to attend this party, how do I respond when asked why I wasn’t there? — Nebraska
Dear Nebraska: You smile politely and say, “Sorry, we had other plans.” No other explanation is necessary.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Unwilling,” who didn’t want to bring an appetizer to a friend’s party.
I don’t know what the big problem is. Throwing a party may be fun, but it’s a lot of hard work. Why can’t the host ask a couple of good friends to bring something? I always offer. Usually, I am flattered to be asked, because it means they enjoy my cooking and trust that I will bring something awesome.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think she should feel obligated to bring an item to a party. Her reaction just seemed a tad extreme. — Gracious Guest in N.C.
Dear Guest: Some people perceive the role of host as the person who sends the invitations, while the guests are expected to pay for the actual event by supplying the food, etc. This may be fine when it is an informal gathering among friends, and a good friend should not be offended when asked to bring something. However, if you are issuing a formal invitation to a major event, the host pays. Period. If you cannot afford a fancy bash, you have a more modest one.
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Published in The Messenger 8.9.11