DEAR ABBY: I married someone who turned out to be very abusive and controlling of me and the kids. I felt powerless to leave with them because of the emotional control, and I had no way to make a living to support them.
They are all adults now, and three of them have been in unhealthy relationships. I know their example of a good marriage or a long-term relationship was awful because of how their father treated me. I live with the guilt and pain of that, but beyond that, seeing three of my four kids in similar abusive relationships is painful.
When two of my girls reach out to me when things are not going well, I'm supportive and I try to be helpful. I guess my question is, given my example of an unhealthy marriage, will any advice I give them fall on deaf ears? Should I just listen? I don't feel like anything I say will help. -- UNHAPPY MOM IN THE SOUTH
DEAR UNHAPPY MOM: Of course you should listen, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't also weigh in on what is happening to them. It could be very helpful if you point out to them that what they witnessed while growing up was not normal -- and explain what IS acceptable behavior in an adult relationship.
You might also apologize for not being stronger earlier on, and explain that their father had eroded your self-esteem to such an extent that you were paralyzed. If their experiences mirror your own, point that out, too, and offer them the number of the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233). If you do, it might not only open their eyes, but also give them the escape they need.Read more in: Family & Parenting | Marriage & Divorce
DEAR ABBY: My siblings and I have always enjoyed spending quality time together, and every eight to 10 weeks or so we get together for "Siblings Day." There's no set schedule or particular date; one of us will call the others and say, "I need some siblings time." (There are five of us, all over 60.) Sometimes we meet at one of our homes and play board games or cards, or dance in the living room and enjoy the laughter that comes with it. It's a time when we just enjoy being family.
Our brother's lady friend, a very nice person, has arrived, uninvited, the last three times we have gotten together. Talk about a party-pooper. We have explained, as graciously as we know how, that these times are very important to us. Our brother has asked her to please allow us this time for family, but she just laughs and says it's silly for grown people to be so needy of each other. (She has six siblings who live close by and with whom she keeps in contact.)
We all love each other and are aware that life is truly short and that we are very lucky to still have this close bond when so many families do not. Can you suggest what we can do to make her understand what this time together means to us and that she is the ultimate uninvited guest? -- JUST THE SIBS IN LOUISIANA
DEAR SIBS: What gall! Your brother's girlfriend does not have the right to judge your family spending time with one another as "silly." It's the height of rudeness. Please point out to him that her behavior is an important red flag for him to consider. The next time she drops by uninvited, your brother should put his foot down and not let her intrude.Read more in: Family & Parenting | Etiquette & Ethics
DEAR READERS: Today we remember the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who in 1968 was martyred in the cause of civil rights. In that time of insanity, his was a voice of reason when he eloquently preached, "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend."Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations
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