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Father's wife absents herself — and him — from family

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Father's wife absents herself — and him — from family

Delaware: Uh, are there any acceptable reasons my father's wife actively avoids my brother and me? My dad remarried after my mom passed away; both my brother and I were happy. My dad and his wife visited us once, but when we visited them, suddenly she had to be out of town.

Fast-forward four years, and I haven't laid eyes on the woman for three of them. My father — when he visits, which is rare — now visits alone. Planned visits to see them result in their canceling plans an hour or two beforehand, and/or her being "too busy" to see us.

We've asked my dad point-blank, and have received a resounding "Huh" from him. For the record, he is actively involved with her family/children/grandchildren. Sure, we're jealous.

Carolyn: If her reasons were acceptable, would it make a difference?

Maybe she doesn't like you. Maybe she's insecure and jealous and sees you as competition for her husband's affections. Maybe you look like your late mother and she has some weird hang-up about her. Who knows?

And, in a way, who cares? When a situation offers no promise of getting better or even being explained, "Who cares?" is something you need to train yourself to say.

Of course you're going to care that you're not seeing your dad as much as you'd like. And, of course you're going to care that your own father isn't telling her to grow up and face the fact that he has grown children who deserve a place in his life. That's not the kind of who-cares I'm talking about. What she's doing is bad regardless.

The "who cares" I'm advising is about the "why." Since you've gotten zero satisfaction in your quest for answers, the best thing you can do now is concentrate entirely on the logistics of maintaining a relationship with your dad under these adverse conditions. Even say it out loud to your dad: "I realize (Wife) wants nothing to do with us, but I miss you and I'd like to plan a visit."

I'm sorry.

Anonymous: Re: Delaware: Would your answer change if there were grandchildren involved? My mother died when I was in my late teens. My dad remarried a few years later and we were happy for him. My sisters and I now have children. All of the grandchildren know my stepmom as Grandma, but she rarely acts like a grandmother. She leaves the house when we visit them. My sisters have decided not to call her Grandma anymore, and call her by her first name. What to do?

Carolyn: No, the answer doesn't change, except that more of you lose out.

But your kids are going to figure Grandma out soon enough, and they'll deal with it.

They'll have an easier time accepting her absence if you're careful not to create expectations in their minds of having an involved grandmother. Don't complain to them, for example, that Grandma leaves. This is your mantra: It's her loss, it's her loss, it's her loss.

Even say that out loud if your kids ask why Grandma's absent. "Oh, that's just Grandma's way — her loss."

Father's wife absents herself — and him — from family 02/04/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 4, 2011 3:30am]
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