Dear Abby: Mom wants me to send Father’s Day cards to her new husband

Doing what she asks would make adult daughter feel disloyal to late dad.

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DEAR ABBY: My mother has just informed me that she expects me to send her and her new husband anniversary cards every year, and her husband Father’s Day cards. I was 51 when Mama remarried, three years after my father’s passing. I send her husband a birthday card and text him on Father’s Day, but I feel disingenuous sending them/him anniversary or Father’s Day cards. Her husband is not my father. He has his own adult children.

Incidentally, Mama and her husband do not send me Mother’s Day cards.

I do not want her husband to think I consider him my father. I would feel disloyal to my father if I were to do what she’s demanding. Is my mother’s expectation reasonable? Should I send cards just because she wants me to? — GRACIOUS ENOUGH

DEAR GRACIOUS: Send your mother and her new husband an anniversary card, as you would ANY friend or relative you wish to congratulate. That she would expect you to treat her new husband, a “new addition” to your family, as a father figure is ridiculous. Why are you texting him on Father’s Day? He never was and never will be your “father,” and I don’t think you should be arm-twisted into catering to Mama’s fantasy.

DEAR ABBY: After my mother died several years ago, my father’s sometimes violent behavior flared up. A few years ago, I decided to stop spending time with him. My sister, who has received — and may continue to receive — significant financial support from Dad, is scolding me for it. I have asked her to respect my choice and to stop criticizing, but she continues to contact me, asks to see me, accuses me of “punishing” her and my father over “nothing,” and makes vague apologies for him without referencing specific behavior.

My dilemma is whether I should continue trying to get through to her. I’d like to see her children, but I’m unsure whether she will respect my boundaries if I see her in person. Her continued haranguing is stressful. I’m tired of being labeled a punishing, overly sensitive shrew for attempting to set boundaries with my father. However, I’m loath to cut off all contact with her, given that I’m not seeing my dad. Is there a middle ground? Or am I wasting my time by trying to get through to someone who doesn’t want to hear me? — FAMILY TROUBLE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR FAMILY TROUBLE: Tell your sister you love her and would very much enjoy seeing her and her children with one proviso: You do not wish to discuss your fractured relationship with your father. Ask if she can respect your wishes, and make clear that if it would be too difficult for her, you will understand and not visit. You do not have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable, and you should not allow yourself to be forced into contact with an abuser.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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