DEAR ABBY: I am a divorced woman with a teenaged daughter. I maintain a good relationship with my ex-husband and his family, and still consider them my family.
The problem is, my ex and our daughter have a strained relationship, mostly because he makes little effort to spend time with her. He doesn't attend her school functions, and most of the time when she's with him he's sleeping or watching TV. She is also sick of the multiple girlfriends that cycle in and out of his life. He doesn't realize how much these things affect her.
She has asked me not to make her see him anymore. She's 15, and I'm unsure if the law allows her to make that decision, but I think it's unwise and she would regret it later. I also worry that everyone in the family will blame me, and my relationship with them will be strained.
I don't know if I should just tell him she won't be coming to his house anymore or if I should continue to make her go. I'm not sure he really cares. I'd appreciate any advice. -- WORRIED MOM IN ARKANSAS
DEAR WORRIED MOM: Have you discussed this with your ex? If you have and nothing has changed, then I don't think you should force your daughter to go any longer. But check with a lawyer to be sure about the law in your state.
When daughters are ignored the way yours has been, they begin to think there's something wrong with themselves -- that they deserve it. It can have a lasting negative impact on a girl's self-esteem, which is not healthy. That she no longer wants to be subjected to it is understandable.
If you're afraid your former in-laws will blame you, tell them what you have told me. Whether your ex cares or is relieved is something no one can know until she doesn't show up, and I sincerely doubt she'll have any regrets about not having to tolerate those distasteful visits later on.