Family remains generations apart
DEAR ANNIE:When our children were growing up, their father was working, sleeping or playing golf. I was the one who coached their softball teams, went to their sporting and scholastic events and took them to church. After 23 years of marriage, I divorced my husband when I discovered he'd had yet another affair.
I've never spoken ill of my ex to our daughters. But he was a master manipulator, and our daughters learned from him. A year after our divorce, my oldest daughter stopped speaking to me. She excluded me from her wedding, refuses to let me see her children and didn't attend her grandfather's funeral. Even though I have tried diligently to mend the situation, she has not spoken to me in more than 13 years.
My next daughter is now following in her footsteps. She claims I treat her son differently than my other grandchildren. She removed all the pictures of me from her home, uninvited me to the boy's birthday party and repeatedly canceled visits I had scheduled and didn't bother to tell me until I was already in town. Now she isn't speaking to me, either, and has totally exiled everyone on my side of the family, the same people who have shown her nothing but love and support.
My youngest daughter has three children with three different men, but is getting professional help to straighten out her life. Of course, her father and older sisters have said they hate her and will not give her another chance.
I have six acquaintances whose children have stopped talking to them. What is wrong with these adult children? Is it their generation? — Grandmother in Kentucky
DEAR KENTUCKY:Every generation has complained about the prior one, and each generation has its own set of external problems to deal with. Most adult children do the best they can to treat their families well. But sometimes even the most conscientious and devoted parents can discover that their grown children are not what they expected or hoped for. Our sympathies.
DEAR ANNIE:My husband and I have many elderly relatives who live in other states. Due to the costs of airline tickets, hotel rooms and car rentals, we don't visit often. However, when one of them passes on, my husband is the first to jump on a plane to attend the funeral. I think it would be better to skip the funeral and visit while they are alive. Please settle this for us. — Now or Later
DEAR NOW:We are in favor of visiting relatives while they can appreciate it, but we know that not showing up for a funeral can create ill-will with the remaining family. If that's an issue for you and money is tight, you can compromise. You visit the relatives now, and your husband can attend the funerals later.
DEAR ANNIE:My heart goes out to "Son of a Portly Dad." I, too, was way past obese at 426 pounds. I'd been retired for four years and never left the house until my wife got me to join a gym, see a personal trainer and completely change my diet.
Along with my wife's help and support, we were both able to lose weight and become more physically fit. After only 18 months, I've lost 152 pounds and my wife has lost more than 50. I went from three minutes on the elliptical trainer to 90. If I can do it, anyone can.
It will take a commitment from Mom and support from the siblings. They all must set good examples and not tempt Dad with unhealthy food. I wish him luck. — Been There in Kentucky
DEAR KENTUCKY:Thanks for your words of encouragement. The difference, of course, is that you were motivated to lose weight and willing to do the necessary work to get there. We hope "Son" can convince his father that he can do the same.