DEAR ABBY: I divorced my abusive ex-husband and am happily remarried. I have a son and daughter from my first marriage. They saw a lot of physical and emotional abuse when they were young. I stayed in the marriage to keep the family together until I realized my children were being hurt in the process. My son witnessed more of the abuse than my daughter.
My son has constantly brought up the past and has never been able to make a decent living. He’s married with three children, and they have lived with his mother-in-law for years. I have apologized many times for what happened in the past and asked for forgiveness. I don’t know what else I can do.
I always send birthday and holiday money telling them that I love them, but for some reason they have stopped answering my calls or responding to my texts. I call them three or four times a year. They used to call me when they needed money, but now they don’t call at all. Should I stop sending birthday checks? They missed Mother’s Day and my heart is broken. I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. — PAYING FOR THE PAST
DEAR PAYING: You will never know what you “did wrong” unless one of your adult offspring decides to tell you. I hope you realize that you are being abused again, this time by two passive-aggressive adults. You are not the reason your son lives with his mother-in-law. As to your daughter, who knows her reason for radio silence?
Please stop flogging yourself. Start living your own life. Bind up that broken heart and focus on happiness with your new husband because, as things stand, you’re not going to find much with these two. Send cards if you must, but omit the money. If you do, I’m sorry to say you may hear from them sooner.
DEAR ABBY: I recently welcomed my third child, a baby boy who was wanted and planned. We are overjoyed. Our two daughters are just under 10 years old. Over the years, my social circle has consisted mostly of the parents of my daughters’ friends.
Abby, my news was met with mixed reactions. Some were thrilled for my pregnancy, while others were shocked. One woman even told me, “I’m just not in that phase of life anymore.”
After my son was born, I didn’t get visits or even a phone call from some of them. I announced his birth on social media and mailed out a beautiful announcement, but he hasn’t been acknowledged nor have I been checked on.
I know he won’t really be affected by this and I’m trying to focus on the positives. We have a big family on both sides, and many people within our community have warmly welcomed him. But I have been a good friend to these women, supported them in their times of need and even reached out during this pandemic to check on them in an effort to reconnect. I’m so disappointed. What am I supposed to say to these “friends” when I run into them again? — NEW MOM AGAIN
DEAR MOM: When you encounter them, be cordial. Make polite conversation and ask how they and their families are doing. If they inquire, tell them you and your family are well. Then move on, recognizing you are dealing with individuals who are solely centered upon themselves. Do not attempt to revive a relationship with anyone who cares so little about you that they would treat you as they have, but DO recognize how fortunate you are that you know not to invest more of your time or yourself in them.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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