Posted: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 8:56 am
Dear Annie: My brother, “William,” was recently arrested for taking inappropriate pictures of my 8-year-old niece. I wasn’t surprised. Two years ago, my daughter said Uncle William had taken pictures of her, too. At the time, we weren’t sure it was true, but we did keep her away from him just to be on the safe side. Last week, a detective arrived at our house with very disturbing pictures of my daughter that they had found in William’s possession.
This has divided our family. My mother and two of my siblings are very supportive of William and don’t want my daughter to talk to the authorities about him. They worry her testimony could possibly exacerbate the charges against him.
My daughter is in counseling to begin healing. I have tried talking about this with my mother, but she is more concerned about “poor William.” She isn’t thinking about her grandchildren at all.
Annie, what do I do? Should I grieve for the family I used to have and walk away? Should I allow some time to pass and then try to reconnect? I doubt we can ever be like before. — Betrayed Daughter
Dear Betrayed: Your mother chooses to believe her son could not possibly be such a bad person, but you owe it to your daughter, your niece and any other children who have come in contact with William to see this through. You don’t have to cut off your relatives.
Continue to call your mother, send cards, even visit if you wish, regardless of her wrong-headedness. The family may not recover entirely, but that is not your fault. It is William’s. Don’t let them make you feel guilty for doing the right thing.
Dear Annie: My niece has been planning her wedding for the past year. It was originally to be held at a local church with a reception immediately following. She has her $3,000 designer gown, and all seven bridesmaids (including my daughter) have spent $168 on their dresses and arranged their schedules to attend the wedding.
We finally received the invitation last week and learned the location has been changed to Las Vegas. The bride now expects everyone to adjust to the additional cost of airfare, car rental, hotel and meals.
I know my brother and his family will be hurt and angry if we do not attend. They came to my daughter’s out-of-town wedding two years ago, but they also knew the location from the start and had time to save for the trip. Are they asking too much of their guests in these economic times? — The Aunt in Los Angeles
Dear Aunt: Hosts aren’t obligated to notify you months in advance where and when an event will be. That’s what the invitation is for. However, members of the bridal party should be told the details in advance so they can decide if it will affect their ability to participate. If you can manage the cost, we think you should go. If not, we hope your daughter can represent your branch of the family.
Dear Annie: Wow. I read the letter from “Midwest Mess,” whose negative and rude mother badmouths her husband to everyone in the family.
I know exactly what she is talking about. My mother was always undermining me and now does it with my kids. She lets them watch R-rated horror movies and buys them CDs that have parental warnings. She’s unbelievable.
This negative behavior is damaging and hurtful and has created a struggle for my children. I agree with your advice to set boundaries and create some distance. If I had learned that way back when, I believe I would have made decisions that might have opened the door to more positive interactions. — Know Better Now
Dear Know Better: It’s never too late to work on this and fix what you can. We hope you are successful at remaking the relationship.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. 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 11.24.08