Annie's Mailbox: Disturbed Middle Sister
Dear Annie: My ex-husband, the father of my kids, decided to date my younger sister, who is in the early stages of recovery from heroin addiction. When she wants to see her four children, she has to have a supervisor present for visitation.
My mother and stepfather support this relationship and think it will be good for her. My older sister and I do not approve. Because of this, my mother decided to disown me and my sister. We have not spoken for six months.
What I don't understand is that my mother mentioned this whole dating thing about four years ago. She asked whether I would be OK with them seeing each other and I strongly replied that I would NOT, and that it was unethical for the two of them to even think about it. Now it's happening.
How do I carry on with no contact with my family due to this? I have been married to my second husband for 11 years. I have no feelings for my ex. My kids seem to be OK with everything, but I just can't do it. It makes everything uncomfortable. Now my older sister and I are cut off from the rest of the family.
What can I do? -- Disturbed Middle Sister
Dear Sister: Obviously, this attraction has been going on for at least four years (and probably longer). We agree that dating the sibling (or best friend) of an ex can be problematic and we don't recommend it. But you don't get to control who other people date, and that includes both your ex and your sister. Expressing your opinion about it is fine. Creating ultimatums only forces an estrangement.
Your decision now is whether or not to accept your sister's relationship (you don't have to approve), in order to remain close to the rest of the family. If the two of them split up, you've lost nothing. If they marry, you will be stuck with this, so be sure you make a choice that you can live with.
Dear Annie: I am writing about "Crying Mother," who views her formerly loving and involved daughter-in-law as "cold and distant" now that the children are older. You gave her some possible explanations. I'd like to suggest another.
Parents' days are filled with meeting the needs of their growing children, in addition to maintaining a home and keeping up with career responsibilities. This may be the busiest and most stressful time of their lives. They have less time to think about their parents, yet they need their parents' love and support more than ever.
After our first was born, my father-in-law would call to say that he would be grilling that weekend and wondered if the baby would like some prime rib. My mother-in-law was happy to bake and decorate cookies with my second-grader for a school activity. I would suggest that "Crying Mother" step into a more supportive role. Does she invite the family over for a meal and fun activity? Does she offer to take the children so the parents can have time alone? Does she inquire about the children's activities and attend when possible? Grandparents can be very important to families, and such efforts are greatly appreciated. -- Been There on Both Sides
Dear Been There: There are always two sides to every story (sometimes three). We hope "Crying Mother" will give your great suggestions a try.
"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. 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.