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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Searches for Courage to Speak Out About Her Rape

DEAR ABBY: I'm in the doghouse with my mother. Last month, my daughter turned 21. As a gift, I planned a special three-day weekend for the two of us. We flew to San Diego and visited some attractions my daughter has always wanted to see -- Sea World and the zoo.

The problem: My mother lives in San Diego. She's mad that we didn't stay with her or visit. Abby, there are three reasons why we didn't contact her: She's very controlling and demanding and would have changed all the plans we made. Second, I wanted our weekend to be a father-daughter event. Third, we see Mom several times a year.

Mom says I should have invited her to some of the attractions. However, she doesn't like to walk and would have complained the whole time. She also said we should have invited her along for dinner, but my daughter and I share a taste for spicy foods, which Mom dislikes. In other words, there was no way to please her and have quality time with my daughter.

Was I wrong? Can't a father spend a special birthday with his child without turning it into a family reunion? Mom's not speaking to me or my daughter, but agreed to forgive and forget if you side with me. -– GENE IN IDAHO

DEAR GENE: I'm siding with you. Of course it is permissible for a father to share a special birthday with his daughter. Surely this isn't the first time family members have noticed that your mother can be difficult or self-centered. It's a sad situation, really, because if she were more flexible, she would have been welcomed.