DEAR HARRIETTE: My mom died a few years ago after a prolonged illness. My dad has found a new woman to share his life, and they are now engaged. The problem is my sisters. We are all adults with families of our own. They don’t like his fiancee at all. They are rude to her and behave like spoiled children. She is different from our mother, but our family has always been open-minded and taken pride in our conviction that “normal” is just a setting on the dryer.
She isn’t after Dad’s money, nor is she forcing her way into our lives. She’s also not trying to replace Mom. It appears she genuinely cares for our dad, which I can understand: He’s a good man -- smart, attractive and fun to be with. Dad is happy as a clam. He’s enjoying himself and has lots more life to live. The thing is my sisters’ attitudes are putting a damper on my dad’s happiness. What can I do to help them? I don’t want to be too harsh because I know they are still grieving, but I hate to see them drive a wedge into what remains of our family. -- Happiness for My Dad, Portland, Oregon
DEAR HAPPINESS FOR MY DAD: Call a family meeting, and address your sisters directly. Remind them that your mother is gone. As much as you miss her, you cannot bring her back. Point out that your father deserves to have joy in his life, and he has found it. You do not have to love this woman, but you do have to respect your father’s decision and be gracious. Ask them to imagine how they would feel if their husbands passed and their children were rude or dismissive about whatever happiness they may have discovered after the loss.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)