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by Abigail Van Buren

Widower Dad Appears to Be Shifting His Family Allegiance

DEAR ABBY: Six years ago my mother died. A year after that, our father met a lady, "Alice," who made him very happy. My sister and I loved her from the start; our brother did not. Father has been engaged to this lovely lady for three years with our blessing.

Our brother decided that Dad had no right to happiness and has disowned the family over "that woman." We have all accepted our brother's decision not to be a part of the family.

The problem is, as time has gone on, our father spends less and less time with his children and grandchildren -- who all live in the same town -- and more and more time with her children and grandchildren. Dad now knows her granddaughter better than his own great-grandchildren.

During the past two years, he has spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas with her children. Dad and Alice show up to spend an hour or two with our side of the family for these holidays, and then leave for her children's home to celebrate. We had mentioned very early in the year that our family would like them to join us for at least one of the holiday dinners.

In short, this is my and my sister's dilemma: We lost our mother, we have lost our brother, and now we feel we are losing our father. We don't know how to broach the subject without causing hard feelings on the part of Dad's fiancee. We do love Alice; she has made our dad very happy. But this is beginning to cause resentment from my sister, our children, grandchildren and me.

How do we get them to understand that they need to give our family equal time without causing a rift? We love both Dad and Alice, and don't want our family splintered any more than it is. -- FAMILY TIES, TUCSON, ARIZ.

DEAR FAMILY TIES: I think you've said it very well. Tell your dad and his fiancee exactly what you have told me. (If you feel unable to honestly express your feelings, then clip this column and give it to them.) You and your sister are not asking too much. In fairness to all concerned, an adjustment needs to be made.

Invite Alice's family to join your family for one, warm, blended family event. Life is too short to feel resentful.