DEAR ABBY: I am a divorced woman with a teenage daughter. I maintain a good relationship with my ex-husband and his family and still consider them my family.
The problem is, my ex and our daughter have a strained relationship, mostly because he makes little effort to spend time with her. He doesn’t attend her school functions, and most of the time when she’s with him he’s sleeping or watching TV. She is also sick of the multiple girlfriends that cycle in and out of his life. He doesn’t realize how much these things affect her.
She has asked me not to make her see him anymore. She’s 15, and I’m unsure if the law allows her to make that decision, but I think it’s unwise and she would regret it later. I also worry that everyone in the family will blame me, and my relationship with them will be strained.
I don’t know if I should just tell him she won’t be coming to his house anymore or if I should continue to make her go. I’m not sure he really cares. I’d appreciate any advice. — Worried Mom in Arkansas
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DEAR WORRIED MOM: Have you discussed this with your ex? If you have and nothing has changed, then I don’t think you should force your daughter to go any longer. But check with a lawyer to be sure about the law in your state.
When daughters are ignored the way yours has been, they begin to think there’s something wrong with themselves, that they deserve it. It can have a lasting negative impact on a girl’s self-esteem, which is not healthy. That she no longer wants to be subjected to it is understandable.
If you’re afraid your former in-laws will blame you, tell them what you have told me. Whether your ex cares or is relieved is something no one can know until she doesn’t show up, and I sincerely doubt she'll have any regrets about not having to tolerate those distasteful visits later on.
Impossible at restaurants
DEAR ABBY: My social circle includes a woman who has problems in restaurants. Something comes over her in this environment — either the waiter is ignoring her, the order is taking too long, she wants to tweak the menu to her liking, the cost is too high or there’s a mistake on the bill. There is no end to it.
One night she didn’t like the salad, so she picked up bits of it and tossed them on the table. Needless to say, no one wants to go out with her anymore. Her husband, however, is a great guy. When we mentioned this to him, he replied, “You’ve noticed it, too?”
Have you heard of this? What’s wrong with her? She is strong-willed in most things, but the restaurant scene is her extreme. Any light you can shed on this would be most appreciated. — Lost My Appetite in Indiana
DEAR LOST: Having never met the woman, it’s hard to pinpoint what may be wrong. She may have OCD, be easily frustrated, or be displacing anger or frustration about something else onto the servers who cannot defend themselves.
Frankly, the woman sounds like a pain in the posterior, and because she makes a habit of making those around her uncomfortable, I’m having trouble understanding why you continue to socialize with them. Many people wouldn’t. Perhaps the husbands can arrange to see him socially without her being present.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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