Annie's Mailbox: A Mom Who Cares
Dear Annie: I am a 55-year-old man, divorced for the past 15 years. My daughter is 24 years old and married to a good guy, and they have two lovely boys. Although I have struggled with depression over the years, I try to live a good, honest Christian life. I raised my two children as a single parent, and my ex has become a deadbeat mother. My ex has married several times since our divorce. Each of her subsequent husbands has been an alcoholic or a drug user.
My problem is that my daughter and her mother seldom speak or see each other. My ex will see my son on occasion, but not much. She's the kind of person who cannot admit fault. When my ex was married to one of her drunken drug users, she let him kick my daughter out of their home because she broke curfew once.
I can see how much this estrangement hurts my daughter, and I want so much for her to reconcile with her mother. My daughter reaches out to my ex through mail, birthday party invitations and occasional voicemails. Her mother never responds.
I recently texted both of them stating that I am sorry for my part in the divorce, hoping it would open up communication. I encouraged them to meet at a neutral location without finding fault in each other and just spend time together.
I feel that a large amount of responsibility has been placed on my shoulders due to my ex's refusal to be a decent parent. My question is whether or not I should say anymore regarding this. I worry so much for my daughter. -- Dad
Dear Dad: Your suggestion to meet in a neutral location is a good one, and we hope they will take you up on it. But please understand that you cannot force your ex-wife to be a better, more caring mother. And there is no way to prevent her behavior from hurting your daughter. What you can do, however, is make sure your daughter knows how much she is loved and valued by her father and others, and that her mother's lack of affection is not about her -- it's about Mom's issues, and only Mom can remedy that. Help her limit the hurt by accepting Mom as she is.
Dear Annie: This letter is in response to "Bob," who has the "misfortune" of knowing "Joe," who has Asperger syndrome and is invited everywhere within his circle of friends. I say "misfortune" because if Bob cannot see past Joe's lack of social skills to the person he is underneath, then Bob is the less fortunate person. Joe probably never had anyone in his life teach him the finer points of communication and friendship. For someone with Asperger's, these traits do not come naturally or through regular interaction with others. These traits, just like reading, math and science, have to be taught.
I am the mom of a 22-year-old "Aspie." My husband and I spent hours teaching our son social skills, and our hard work has paid off tremendously. Our son is still socially awkward and misses some of the finer social cues, but he is flourishing at university and has a diverse circle of friends.
If Joe were blind and constantly tripping over Bob's furniture, I'm sure Bob would not exclude him because of it. Bob could be a real friend and help Joe maneuver through social situations in a positive way. -- A Mom Who Cares
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.