Posted: Thursday, September 8, 2011 8:02 pm
Dear Annie: When I divorced three years ago, my ex-husband and I worked out a visitation schedule whereby he gets our children three weekends a month. Now that our older child is 13, she is involved with a great many extracurricular activities and has a busy social life. “Sydney” has canceled quite a few weekends with her father in order to do other things. Now he is accusing me of withholding visitation.
Last spring, Sydney signed up for a musical stage production that included twice-a-week practices and two weekend shows in a row. She told her father I was “forcing” her to do the show, even though she knew when she signed up that the production was dependent on her and she couldn’t miss too much time. She wanted to do it. My ex believes I am to blame for all the canceled weekends.
In addition, Sydney always has to call her father on those weekends she stays home. She often gets his voicemail, and then he gets angry that he hasn’t spoken to her. When I ask why he doesn’t call her back, he claims he’s too busy. In the past three years, he has never called once. When he needs to make pick-up arrangements, he has his girlfriend do it.
It is frustrating being responsible for initiating contact between my daughter and her father, and I am sick and tired of hearing him complain. Sydney is a teenager, and I rarely get to see her myself. Isn’t there some kind of loophole that says a teenager can refuse visitation? Can I tell him to shut up and get a lawyer so my daughter can tell a judge what she wants? — Not Withholding the Child
Dear Not: Well, we don’t recommend the “shut up” part. Visitation schedules are often altered as children get older. When ex-spouses can set aside their differences for the child’s sake, this can be worked out amicably. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be the case for you. Part of the problem is that Sydney doesn’t want her father to think ill of her, so she gives the impression that you are to blame. She should learn to take responsibility for her decisions. And her parents should talk this over with a mediator.
Dear Annie: Once a week, a group of us gets together to play games at one of our houses. When the phone rings, the hostess will usually let it go to voicemail.
However, at one home, the hostess not only answers the phone, but she proceeds to have a long conversation with the caller. She often gets several calls during the time we’re there. Those playing have to sit and wait for her to finish. As far as we can tell, none of these calls is an emergency or anything that couldn’t wait until the rest of us have gone home. Would you comment on this, please? — Interrupted
Dear Interrupted: When you invite guests to your home, it is rude to allow non-emergency phone calls to repeatedly interfere with socializing. One of you should take the woman aside and ask her to please stop doing this. Or, when she picks up the next call, say, “Oh, Doris, since you’re going to be talking, we’ll just play your hand for you.” That should shorten the conversation substantially.
Dear Annie: I hope you have room for one more letter about the efficacy of counseling.
After extricating myself from an abusive marriage, I sought help from a professional. But I found it confusing, frustrating and ineffective. My counselor insisted that I had done absolutely nothing wrong in our marriage and my husband was 100 percent responsible for the disaster. But, how could that be? I am far from perfect. It did not benefit me to think that way.
I know counselors should be supportive and affirming, but this was ridiculous. The counselor ended up having no credibility in my eyes. — Didn’t Need It
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 9.8.11