Dear Annie: My husband has a 12-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. We don’t get to see “Emma” too often. She lives with her mother in another state, and Mom keeps her summers so packed that she cannot visit.
The problem is that this year Emma visited my father-in-law for an entire week, and he didn’t once let her do anything with us. It was very upsetting. My husband and I have three young children together, and Grandpa spends NO time with them at all. Yet he managed a week with Emma and didn’t include us. Our 5-year-old was hurt that Grandpa spends time with his older sister but never does anything with him.
Can I do anything about Grandpa playing favorites? It kills me to see my children hurt because of it. I also want my children to have a good relationship with their half-sister. I’ve talked to my husband, but he doesn’t know what to do, either, and it’s causing a great deal of stress in our home.
-- Upset Daughter-in-Law
Dear Upset: You surely realize that Grandpa “hoards” Emma in an effort to make up for the divorce and also to be sure that his ex-daughter-in-law will continue to allow the girl to visit. Your husband should speak to his father and explain how hurt the other grandchildren are that he doesn’t spend any time with them. You both should encourage Grandpa to come over more often.
More importantly, if your husband doesn’t get to see Emma because Mom is deliberately preventing it, he should speak to his lawyer about amending the visitation arrangements.
Dear Annie: I am an older single guy and have a question. The women I’ve dated repeatedly say, “I can’t make a decision, because I don’t know where I will be in five years.”
Now, we’re not talking about marriage proposals, but about other decisions that often come up. I’ve never heard a guy say something like that. No one knows where they will be in five years, and the decisions one makes today often affect that.
Is this some form of decision avoidance?
-- Just Curious
Dear Curious: What type of questions are you asking that provoke them to contemplate their lives five years down the road? Either they believe your questions require some type of commitment they aren’t willing to give, or they are trying to tell you that a commitment from you is exactly what they are looking for.
Dear Annie: My friends and I received a text message from “Carrie” inviting us to a birthday party that she is giving herself and asking us to bring a dish. That part was fine. But she added a P.S., saying she’d rather have money than presents so she can buy herself a bike. Carrie went into a long explanation about why she wants the bike and that she’d appreciate our contributions.
Some of my friends think this is terrible, and others say she is just being honest. What do you think?
-- Still Carrie’s Friend
Dear Friend: We are never in favor of invitations that dictate what gift people should buy. It removes all of the incentive to put effort into finding something that shows you are thinking of her. Instead, this party has turned into a fundraiser. It also means Carrie will know exactly what you spent on her, which can be embarrassing. Such a request is in poor taste, although we are certain some guests will be relieved that they don’t have to search for a thoughtful gift. Complying is up to individual guests. You are not obligated to contribute.
Dear Annie: I’m writing in reply to “KC,” who was horrified to discover that her ancestors owned slaves and didn’t know how to explain it to her mixed-race nieces.
I believe that KC is very much afraid that somehow, after many, many generations, her family history will taint her as a racist. My family, too, fought and died in the Civil War on both sides. Some were slave owners. The youngest died from neglect and disease at age 17 in a Union POW camp.
There has been a member of my family in every war since the American Revolution. My son is the seventh generation serving in the military, and I’m proud of my family history. Just because some owned slaves does not make me a racist. I know right from wrong. I live in a culturally diverse neighborhood and have close friends of many races.
People should not erase the bad parts of their family history. They are just facts, not a reflection of who they are now. Thanks for letting me have a voice.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org