DEAR ABBY: I’m writing on behalf of my partner of more than 10 years. He has three daughters ages 23, 20 and 16. While he’s close to two of them, his youngest distances herself when she doesn’t get what she wants or disagrees with his point of view on something.
Eight months ago, she stopped talking to him because he badmouthed a boy band she likes. He essentially said they weren’t worth the money when she asked him to buy her a ticket to their concert. He was going to appease her, but her reaction was so strong, she didn’t give him a chance to let her know he was going to buy the ticket anyway.
Her mother doesn’t encourage the relationship or support the importance of her having her father in her life or regular visitation, although it’s court-ordered. He tried making contact with her several times when this last episode happened, but she ignored his calls and messages. Now that her birthday is coming up, however, she had her older sister send her wish list to him via a text message. Should he buy gifts for a child who has ignored him for the better part of a year? — GIFTS OR NO GIFTS
DEAR G.O.N.G.: If your partner’s daughter wants something from Dad for her birthday, she should ask him directly and not telegraph the message through her sister. Your partner should do what he wants to do about her behavior. You and I know how we would handle this, but we are not him and we are not emotionally involved. Stay out of the line of fire.
DEAR ABBY: With no warning, my mother-in-law packed up and left my father-in-law. From what she tells me, he was verbally and emotionally abusive, and all-around controlling. My father-in-law is remarrying. He met his fiancee shortly after my MIL left.
I don’t think I mind that he’s getting remarried, but I do mind that no one has told my husband’s mother. FIL won’t tell her, and my husband won’t either. She has said she “doesn’t want to know anything” that’s going on with my FIL. Not only does she not know, but neither does my husband’s brother. My brother-in-law despises his father.
My husband’s extended family will be attending the wedding. I have immense guilt about going. I feel like I’m betraying my MIL, with whom I have a good relationship. My husband wants me to attend because he needs the support. If I had it my way, I wouldn’t go. I’ve never had a great relationship with my FIL, and he doesn’t appear to have changed, even though he’s with someone new. Any advice? — IN A TOUGH SPOT IN IOWA
DEAR TOUGH SPOT: Your mother-in-law made clear that she doesn’t want to know what’s going on with your father-in-law, so keep your mouth shut and don’t become the town crier. Because your husband says he needs your support on that occasion, go with him and offer “good wishes” to the happy couple. (From what you have written, they are going to need them.) When your husband’s mother finds out about the marriage — and, of course, she will — remind her that she told you she didn’t want to be kept informed, so you respected her wishes.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.