Grandparents have no idea why they're out in the cold

Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: My brother "Brian" and his wife, "Laurel," have an adult son, "Dick," who dated a girl I'll call "Crystal" for 10 years before they got married. Everyone got along fine, until Crystal gave birth.

After their first child was born, Crystal started withholding visits from my brother and his wife. Crystal and Dick had two more children. The oldest is now 6. The only way Brian and Laurel see their grandchildren is if there's a family reunion, wedding, etc. Crystal allows her parents to see the kids and spend time with them whenever.

Brian and Laurel are flabbergasted by what has happened. They have no idea why all of a sudden after giving birth, their DIL has not allowed them to visit the grandkids, babysit or anything. My brother and his wife are great people. They don't drink to excess or use drugs and would be wonderful grandparents for these children. Would it be appropriate as a family member (aunt) to write a letter to Crystal and, in a kind, nonaccusatory way, explain the hurt this has caused and how much their children are missing out from not being around these two great individuals? -- MISSING OUT IN OREGON

DEAR MISSING OUT: While it isn't unheard of for the wife's parents to take precedence over the husband's, Crystal's behavior does appear to be extreme. It also appears the way she's acting is retaliatory, but the people who must get to the bottom of it are your brother and his wife. I don't think there is anything to be gained by involving yourself in this sad mess, because if you do, Crystal and her husband will resent it. Sympathize, but stay out of it.

DEAR ABBY: Five years ago, my daughter, "Angie," and her two children moved in with me after she and her husband separated. I hoped she would get her finances and life together and be able to get a place of her own.

What I didn't realize at the time was that Angie had started a relationship and had fallen in love with a man she met online. Her daughter was very upset about it. Angie was in a custody dispute over her youngest child, and we disagreed more than once about issues concerning the children.

After a couple of years, she moved into her own place. She's still involved with this individual. I haven't met him and have no desire to. She's upset with me because of it. I don't want to see him with her because he has been married several times and is involved with drugs. I realize who Angie is involved with is her business and not mine, but I want nothing to do with him. How can I avoid a rift with her over this? -- SOURED IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR SOURED: No law says you have to meet this person, and it is your privilege to avoid him if you wish. I'm not sure what your daughter expects from you. Does she want you to entertain him? Common sense would dictate that you do not want anyone who is involved with illegal substances in your home. However, I do think you should agree to meet him once.

If Angie's relationship with you is predicated on the idea that you will welcome this individual into your life with open arms because she has, you will then have to figure out how to navigate this. That she would allow someone like him to interact with her children shows very poor judgment.

DEAR ABBY: Our 19-year-old daughter is wonderful in many ways. She's smart, attends a university on academic scholarships and earns excellent grades. The problem is the way she dresses. Her shorts are so short they show some cheek, the bathing suits she wears in our backyard pool are almost thongs, she runs at the track in spandex and a sports bra and gets catcalls.

I understand the outfit would be OK for a formal race, but at the track? Why not throw on a T-shirt? The most recent example was a Sunday afternoon, ladies-only baby shower, to which she wore a pale pink (it looked nude) clingy dress that barely covered her butt. No one else was dressed like that. I was embarrassed. She wasn't raised like this.

I understand there are times when a young woman wants to look alluring. I have tried to talk to her about classy/sexy versus trampy, but she gets defensive. Any advice? -- EMBARRASSED MOM IN WEST VIRGINIA

DEAR MOM: Many young women dress the way your daughter does in an attempt to emulate current social media personalities. Others do it to get attention because they are not sure they have anything more to offer. Because lecturing your daughter has fallen on deaf ears, let her learn these lessons on her own. And in the meantime, concentrate on helping her to appreciate more of the important qualities she has to offer in addition to what I am assuming is a killer figure.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been together for 15 years. We seem to have a lot of issues every year around fall. It has been this way for the last five years.

While my husband and I were separated, he was intimate for a month with a younger woman. He decided to stop seeing her and returned home to work on our marriage, but before he approached me about working things out, he apologized to her first. I don't understand why he owed her an apology. It still bothers me that he felt the need to apologize to her first and not me. What should I do? -- HURT IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR HURT: Your husband may not have been entirely honest with the younger woman about his marital status, or he may have felt guilty for leading her on. Who knows? In the interest of saving your marriage, I suggest you focus your attention on the fact that you have your husband back and let this go.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a dad with four kids, three of them grown. When we celebrate my birthday or my wife's, or Father's Day or Mother's Day, I'm the one who always pays. For the most recent Father's Day dinner, the check was $240. My wife and I are still paycheck-to-paycheck people, and at least one of my kids makes five times as much as we do between her and her boyfriend. Am I getting this wrong? -- NOT MADE OF MONEY

DEAR NOT MADE: No, you are not. In some families, the parent, "the head of the family," picks up the check for celebrations. However, once the children become adults, they usually step forward on occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, Mother's Day and Father's Day and treat their parents. Because your children don't seem to have noticed that they are now adults, you should point it out to them. Because of the disparity in your incomes, they should at least offer to treat you and your wife on special occasions.