DEAR ABBY: My youngest brother, Jim, and his wife, Mary, have been separated for a couple of years and plan to divorce. They have three children and I have four, all close in age.
About three weeks ago, my youngest son, Billy, said he missed his cousins and wanted to go to Aunt Mary's mobile home to visit them. I called my brother and asked how he felt about Billy's request. Jim said he would prefer that I not continue my friendship with Mary and the children. He said that we would be disloyal to him if we continue to see his estranged wife and their children.
A few days later, Billy saw his cousins in school, and they begged him to visit them. I then called Mary and she, too, invited us over. We had a very pleasant evening together.
The next morning, Jim arrived at my place and said, "I see that you chose Mary over me. I'm having a birthday party next weekend, and you and your kids are not invited. Furthermore, you can never come to my house again."
I replied, "OK, I'll be loyal to you! I won't see Mary again."
Jim said, "It's too late. You've made your choice." Then he stormed out.
I discussed my brother's attitude with our parents. Dad said, "You should be loyal to your brother." Mom said, "It's about feelings."
I think it's about Jim's insecurities.
Abby, maybe I shouldn't have gone to my estranged sister-in-law's home, but I don't think I was being disloyal to my brother. Do you think Jim was out of line? -- MINNEAPOLIS READER
DEAR READER: Your brother obviously is distraught at the breakup of his marriage, and yes, I would say that Jim was out of line.
It's sad enough that his children are losing their full-time father without losing their cousins as well.
Jim's attitude is all too common in divorce. You have the right to maintain a relationship with your brother's children. They are still family, so don't let Jim dissuade you.