Mom takes son-in-law's side in daughter's custody battle

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I got divorced a year ago. Before it became final, there were many court appearances. My husband told my mother we were divorcing because I was unfaithful, which is true. What he didn't say was I felt neglected, abandoned and unwanted, all things he knew because I had discussed them with him and he ignored me.

Either way, she is my mother, not his, and she showed up with him to a couple of court dates to vouch for him to have custody of our kids! I was sad, mortified and angry. It happened with no warning. Mother and I had not severed contact. As a matter of fact, she had recently spent a week with me and our kids in our home.

Our relationship had never been great, but now it's over. It has been a year since we last spoke, and I feel no remorse, no sadness, no regrets, only anger that she turned against her own daughter. Regardless of what I did, I am her child. As a mother, I would never betray my children, no matter what they did. I was awarded full physical and legal custody of both of them, by the way. Is there something wrong with me for not feeling sad or missing her and being so angry after an entire year has passed? -- NUMB IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR NUMB: Wrong? In your words, your relationship with your mother had never been great. That she appeared in court as a surprise witness for your husband must have been a terrible shock. I assume your mother has not tried to apologize for what she did. If that's true, there is nothing wrong with your justifiable anger unless it's eating at you and negatively affecting your quality of life. If that is what's happening, talking with a licensed psychotherapist will help you straighten out your thinking.

DEAR ABBY: In 2014, my family found out that my father was having an affair. He had been with his wife for 24 years. We all bit our tongues as he moved "Jasmine" in with him and then moved her family into their small, one-bedroom house as well.

Since he got involved with Jasmine, he has started smoking again and lost a lot of weight. We hardly see or talk to him these days. Everything he does she must approve. We know he isn't happy, but he won't admit it to any of us. (We heard it from a couple of his close friends.)

My wedding is coming up in 2021. My fear is that Jasmine will somehow prevent him from going. How can we all approach this subject with him without upsetting him? If he isn't there to walk me down the aisle, it will be a sad day. -- LOST IN COLORADO

DEAR LOST: I don't think that at this point you (all) should approach your father about this. Instead, try befriending Jasmine, which will enable you to keep a closer eye on him and his health. If you can manage that, she may be less likely to prevent your dad from walking you down the aisle. In the meantime, cross your fingers and hope your dad comes to his senses and finds the courage to move the woman and her family out of his home and out of your lives.

DEAR ABBY: I woke up crying this morning. The holidays are fast approaching, and many of them I spent with my younger sister "Leyla" and her family. It has been a tradition because our parents are no longer living, and my sisters live on the mainland.

Leyla's fiance doesn't care for me, so last year's celebration wasn't very fun, although I did enjoy my family. Her fiance and I have never had an argument nor have I ever said anything negative to him. He's insecure and wants Leyla to himself.

I was gone for the holidays in 2018 because I was caring for our elderly father. I hadn't been to their home for almost two years before that. During that time he had my sister all to himself. The last time I visited he wasn't nice to me. It didn't feel good.

Now, with this upcoming holiday season, I know I won't be invited to join them, which makes me sad and mad at the same time. My sister doesn't deal with life like I do. I am very family-oriented, and I would never let a man come between us. It breaks my heart knowing I won't be a part of their lives this year for the holidays. I'm 65, and Leyla is 61. We shouldn't be dealing with this kind of thing in our lives. What should I do? -- SAD ISLAND LADY

DEAR SAD: Discuss this with Leyla and find out whether you will be invited to visit this year. Many families are distancing not because of personality conflicts but because of COVID. It may be possible to see your sister via Zoom or outside her home if you arrange to stay elsewhere.

If that isn't possible, make plans with friends and/or other relatives. Many people will be celebrating Christmas and New Year's differently this year. You will not be alone in that.

DEAR ABBY: My 16-year-old son passed away unexpectedly a month ago. Because he was short for his age, he had been bullied during middle and high school. After a minor argument with my husband and me, he contacted a neighborhood kid who sold him powerful painkillers. This was, to my knowledge, the first time he did this, and I don't think he realized how devastating the effects could be. (We had previously discussed the dangers of prescription drugs, but it seems this was an impulsive decision.)

My husband and 19-year-old daughter are reeling from this tragedy, and we're all in therapy now. I need to know if you have any advice on how to grieve. I'm feeling so lost and still in shock, and I have appreciated reading your advice over the years. -- STILL IN SHOCK IN COLORADO

DEAR STILL: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the tragic loss of your beloved son. The circumstances of his death make it even more difficult to understand and cope. Fortunately, there is help and support for families who have lost a sibling or a child.

The Compassionate Friends is a group I have mentioned before in my column. Founded 50 years ago in England and incorporated in the United States in 1978, it exists to provide friendship, understanding and hope to parents who are going through the natural grieving process. To find a chapter near you, contact them online at or by calling 877-969-0010. Please don't wait.