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by Abigail Van Buren

Estrangement Among Siblings Is Pinned on Dad's Verbal Abuse

DEAR ABBY: My mother passed away six years ago. I have two older brothers and a father in my immediate family. There was a rift between my brothers and me several years ago. I made clear to them in a letter how badly they had hurt me. Instead of apologizing, they choose to no longer have a relationship with me.

Dad refuses to get involved. He says his kids are adults, and we should work it out. Recently, he admitted he was verbally abusive to my mom while I was growing up. I remember it well from my childhood. I believe my brothers mimicked his behavior with me while I was growing up and as adults.

I resent my dad for not helping to resolve this issue. He was an angry and insecure person while I was growing up and took things out on Mom. What's the best way for me to address this with him instead of harboring resentment and avoiding a relationship with him? -- WITHOUT FAMILY IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR WITHOUT FAMILY: What exactly do you expect your father to do at this point? Order your brothers to apologize? He is neither willing nor capable of doing it, as he has made clear.

Accept that this is the way things are and keep a cordial relationship with your father if you can. It would also be healthy for you to concentrate on maintaining relationships with people who treat you well and who make you feel accepted and valued. And recognize that those people are your "family" rather than the dysfunctional one into which you were born.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Abuse | Death