DEAR ABBY: My father-in-law is his own worst enemy. While my husband and I were dating, we visited his father regularly. Since our marriage, our visits have become less frequent. This is because my husband and I both have demanding jobs, and I am in school. We are busy trying to secure a stable life together.
My FIL has taken offense to this. He insists that the real reason we don't visit is because we are angry with him and hate him. We have tried explaining that it isn't so, but he refuses to believe us. He's convinced that he has somehow deeply offended us, and we are refusing to talk about it.
Unfortunately, he obsesses over this every time we DO visit and makes it awkward by guilt-tripping me and my husband, begging us to tell him what he did wrong. He also tries to prevent us from leaving when it's time to go by distracting us with conversation, refusing to see us out the door, and sometimes physically sitting in front of the car so we can't drive off. Neither my husband nor I look forward to visits anymore because they have become such a chore.
My FIL has issues with mental illness (which contribute to his behavior), but he refuses to get help. Worse, he has an elementary school-age child who believes everything he says. The child is convinced we hate and have abandoned them because of hearing my FIL talk. I am frustrated and sad for the child, but my words to my FIL fall on deaf ears. Do you have any advice? -- DAUGHTER-IN-LAW IN THE SOUTH
DEAR D.I.L.: Frankly, I am surprised your FIL is not focusing his entire attention on the child who is living at home rather than obsessing about his adult son and you. The man appears to be not only disturbed but also irrational.
Because your husband has dealt with his father his entire life, take your cues from him. If your father-in-law is currently married (I assume he must be because he has a young child living with him), talking to his wife might help. She may be able to help counteract the damage that is being created with the child.Read more in: Family & Parenting | Mental Health
DEAR ABBY: My son is welcoming his first child at the age of 39, and I will be hosting a baby shower for him and his girlfriend. The problem is, I asked him for a list of attendees, and at the top of the list is someone my son and daughter were friends with since middle school. However, a few years ago, she interfered with my daughter's marriage and caused a lot of heartache, so my daughter cut all ties with her.
My son travels a lot. He is not home often and doesn't know the extent of what happened between my daughter and their mutual friend. I'm not sure how to handle this. Should I not invite her, or should I tell my son what happened and suggest he not invite her out of respect for his sister? Or do I tell my daughter this is about her brother, it's only one get-together, and she needs to respect her brother's wishes?
I'm in the middle and not sure what to do. At one time I was close with this girl, but after what she did to my daughter, I haven't spoken to her either. -- GETTING ALONG IN THE EAST
DEAR GETTING ALONG: Your son may travel a lot, but he has a phone. Call him, fill him in and ask how he and his girlfriend want this handled. I'm betting he will tell you to scratch "Miss Troublemaker" off the list.Read more in: Family & Parenting | Holidays & Celebrations
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)