Dear Annie: Disowned but invited
Dear Annie: I am a widow with many children and stepchildren, who all are adults. Most of us get along and spend time with one another on a monthly basis.
There is one stepson, “Joe,” who has decided to “disown” the family, feeling that he isn’t kept in the loop and that others don’t talk to him. This is the second time he’s announced a disowning. The first time, my late husband was able to talk him out of it. Joe also disowned his mother, and neither he nor any of his immediate family attended her funeral. Since her funeral, he has disowned a sister who voiced her displeasure at this. He announced the most recent disowning just prior to a Christmas gathering I was hosting, so he, his wife and his two sons didn’t attend (although his daughter did).
Frankly, not having Joe at family gatherings will decrease the stress and tension, as we won’t have to be so careful about what we say or do. Usually, he and his wife would remove themselves from the group and sit in a different room or area, I believe as a test to see who would come to talk to them. This did not happen when his father, my late husband, was alive. There is lots of baggage from my husband’s nasty divorce, which was before my time. Joe sided and lived with his father. Outside of the family arena, he and his wife are pleasant and lovely people.
The problem I am having is in deciding whether to attend a wedding celebration for Joe’s son. None of his siblings or other family members is invited; I’m the only one. I feel I should attend and be a gracious stepmom. I do not condone this behavior but do not want to act in the same way and cut off the relationship. I feel it is his way of being in control, but it is hurtful and puts me in the middle. Do I go and kick up my heels or decline and send a check? — Torn
Dear Torn: This is a time to kick your heels up and put on your dancing shoes. Children don’t choose their parents. I’m sure that being the son of a difficult man has been tough, so you should not further punish Joe’s son by not going to his wedding just because his dad is a prima donna. “Disown” the drama and enjoy the wedding.
Dear Annie: My parents gave me a name that is spelled funny, and I’m being shamed for it everywhere I go, especially in the community I live in. It’s too late for me to change it, as it would mess up all my legal business. How do I deal with — or what do I say to -- these nasty, spiteful people who seem to enjoy harassing me? I’m angry enough to really tell them off, but the consequences of that might not be worth it. What do you suggest? — Sick and Tired of Spiteful People
Dear Sick: People who would judge or ridicule you in any way for the spelling of your name are the punchline of their own joke. So in a way, your name does you the favor of screening those people out. Pay no mind to the herdlike mentality. Be brave; be yourself. A wolf doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.
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