DEAR ABBY: My fiancee has two daughters (14 and 11) from a previous marriage. Their dad, “Brett,” was just arrested for his fourth DUI, the second within a year. The girls don’t trust him anymore, and their image of him has changed greatly.
We have always encouraged the girls to stay with their dad on “his” days, but when they do, Brett rarely does anything with them, and he berates them. I know he misses his girls, and his siblings have told us the girls need to get past this because “tomorrow is not guaranteed.” I understand. I live my life on that premise. But if Brett isn’t willing to change, then why should we continue to encourage his being in their lives? He cares only about his image, not the actual relationship with his daughters.
He has a history with drugs and alcohol, and in the last 12 months, he has been fired from three different jobs. This is not the role model the girls need. I know I’m not their father, but it kills me seeing them hurt. Should we encourage them to still visit him? Or do we let them decide? I’m a soon-to-be stepfather who wants only what is best for the girls. — PARENTING IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR PARENTING: When there is a divorce with children involved, custody arrangements are usually dictated by the court. Your fiancee’s daughters may not have much choice but to visit their father on “his” days. That said, the custody arrangement can be altered if it becomes necessary.
I agree that someone with four DUIs is not a great role model, and he could be a danger to them if he is still allowed to drive. Encourage the girls to keep you informed of what transpires during their visits with their father. I disagree with the relatives who say they must get past their father’s neglect and verbal abuse.
DEAR ABBY: I have three sisters. We are all in our 50s and 60s. Three of us get along great and always have, but we have all had issues with our oldest sister, “Lulu.” She has gotten angry at us for many different reasons.
When our father was terminally ill, she wanted one of us to live with him in his home even though we thought it was enough that we were in the same small town and went over there daily. Also, Lulu is a widow and not financially secure, and she feels we have not helped her out enough. There have been times we have gotten along wonderfully, but sadly, it always ends in drama.
I miss her regardless of the drama, but she seems to have written us off. She is convinced that she is right, and we are bad for her. Must I learn to accept this and move on? Or should I try to make it right? My youngest sister wants nothing to do with her. She says Lulu is bad for her mental health. Can you help me to finally resolve this one way or the other? — DYSFUNCTIONAL IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR DYSFUNCTIONAL: You are not responsible for Lulu’s financial woes. Let her know you are there for her, but cannot help support her financially. I’m sorry you didn’t mention whether she has a job. If she doesn’t, she needs to find one to supplement her income. Unless you are willing to cave to emotional blackmail and supplement your sister’s income for the rest of her life (or yours), accept that it may be time to move on.
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