Dear Abby: As my dad makes messes, my mom makes excuses

The 70-year-old man’s narcissistic habits, and his wife’s refusal to acknowledge them, are becoming intolerable for many in his family.

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DEAR ABBY: My narcissistic father feels entitled to do whatever he pleases. He has always insisted that since he makes the money, far more than my mother’s income, he should be waited on and cleaned up after. If he stays in my home, he leaves messes everywhere. He’s 70, but he acts like a 4-year-old.

He loves attention and will do anything to be the center of it, whether it’s wearing a kilt or showing off his intellectual prowess. I have no relationship with him, and I’m OK with that. Mom complains constantly about him, and then defends him. It’s emotionally exhausting.

My husband, our kids and I are appalled at his lack of self-awareness, empathy or caring. He makes going on vacation a nightmare. He feels that if he does all the driving, then he’s done his part and refuses to help with anything else. He is difficult and manipulative.

He’s getting worse as he gets older, and I no longer want to subject my family to this. My mother doesn’t seem to understand this. How do I deal with a narcissistic father and a mother who refuses to acknowledge it and constantly makes excuses for him? — EXASPERATED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR EXASPERATED: One way to deal with it would be to stop taking vacations with them, since the vacations seem to be anything but pleasant for you and your family. Try to avoid him as often as you can. When your mother complains about “Dad,” point out that this is the prize she married and you are tired of hearing her complain since she won’t assert herself. Then change the subject when she brings it up.

DEAR ABBY: My brother is emerging from a painful two-year-long divorce, during which his two teenage daughters and one grown daughter became estranged from him. His now-ex-wife overshared with them during the divorce and did everything she could to prevent them from seeing him, despite court orders for him to have joint custody, visitation and therapy.

My brother isn’t perfect, but he loves his girls and wants them in his life. He’s slowly making progress with one of his minor daughters. My problem is his ex has caused them to shun the rest of their paternal relatives. My two sisters (their aunts) and I are pained by the loss of those relationships.

We still reach out at holidays and birthdays with texts, gifts and well wishes, but we receive no response, not even a polite “thank you.” Because we stood by our brother during a terrible experience, we are “guilty by association.” Should we continue reaching out or leave them alone until they are ready to have a relationship with us again? — VICTIM OF DIVORCE

DEAR VICTIM: I don’t think you should continue sending gifts that go unacknowledged. However, leave the lines of communication open by sending cards to your nieces on appropriate occasions. If you haven’t discussed this with your brother, I recommend you do, and take your lead from him.

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.

Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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