Dear Annie: When my daughter was 14, she falsely accused me of physical abuse. She is now 33 and brings up these false charges whenever she is having difficult issues in her own life. She blames me for all of her problems. Even worse, my sister enables and promotes her negative view of me.
I want closure for all the pain she has caused my family and me. I don’t know whether I should take legal action or whether it is simply better not to have any further contact with her.
I’ve tried my whole life to be a good person. But no matter what I do, my daughter uses our past to smear and embarrass me. Can you help me?
— Mother in Iowa
Dear Iowa: Have you ever gone for counseling so your daughter could express why she accused you of abuse and you could work through it together? Even though you say the charges are false, she may believe differently, and this needs to be addressed. And if she is simply trying to ruin your reputation, that, too, deserves an airing so you can find out why she is holding on to such animosity. If she rebuffs your attempts at reconciliation and refuses counseling, we agree that ending contact may be the best way to regain your equilibrium.
Dear Annie: This is an open letter to all stepchildren with an impending wedding.
Dear Children of Divorced Parents: I worked in divorce law for many years. When it comes to wedding planning, you have one of two choices: You can choose to honor and include both parents appropriately, or you can choose to honor an angry parent and exclude half of your family.
If you select the former, then you receive all the benefits of having both parents and families. If you choose the latter and use the wedding to injure the other parent on behalf of the angry parent, you should not expect any fruits from that excluded family. Understand that your decision probably will determine the attitude of the other parent, and you will not have the right to expect generosity and cooperation from the excluded parent.
It might help to keep in mind that a parent whose relationship with you requires that you marginalize the other parent is not showing love. He or she is showing selfishness. It does not help your marriage or your future children.
Please get counseling to help you set standards so that an angry parent does not ensure your wedding revolves around his or her failed relationship.
Dear Observant: You have written wise words for future brides and grooms. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to distance oneself from a parent (abuse, for example), but in too many instances, it is one parent’s petty revenge upon the other. This is a sad way for young couples to start a new marriage.
Dear Annie: A while back, you printed a letter from “Sad in Kansas,” whose younger brother claimed the family home as compensation for time spent caring for the folks.
I have four sons. One lives near me and is always helping out, whether it’s fixing the computer or making a house repair. When I die, he will inherit the house. My other three sons have been advised of the transfer and the reasons for it. They have been understanding and supportive of that decision.
Dear Phyllis: We agree that children who take on the majority of care for their parents should be compensated in some fashion. You wisely discussed these arrangements in advance, so there will be no unpleasant surprises and consequent sibling resentments.
To all of our Muslim readers: Happy Eid.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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