Dear Amy: My mother passed away this last November after a long illness. My father started dating a close family friend in January, and now they are engaged.
This person has a shaky past. She has been engaged/married/divorced several times in the past 15 years. She engages in illegal activities, such as drug distribution and fraud. We do not want the grandchildren to be involved with her.
My father insists that if we or the grandchildren want to have any contact with him, that she MUST be included. We have told him he is more than welcome to visit us or to take the grandchildren places, but she cannot join them.
He tells the grandchildren we are keeping him away, when in fact it is his choice to not be without his new fiancee, if even for a few hours.
We love our father and want him to be happy, but this relationship seems to just be a way for him to keep from being alone. If it lasts, we may warm to their relationship, but with her history, I can’t say if she’ll ever be allowed around the kids.
My family is still grieving the loss of my mother, and I feel like I am grieving the loss of another parent because he has essentially cut contact with us in order to spend time with her.
Are we wrong to keep her from having contact with the grandchildren?
Dear Still Grieving: I think it is completely reasonable for you to ask your father to allow you more time to adjust to his situation. For now, you (and spouses and siblings, if you have them) should attempt to spend time with the couple in an adults-only context.
If you continue to believe that she is a dangerous person for your children to spend any time with, you will have to stand firm. However, you may grow to feel comfortable having the couple in the kids’ presence, as long as you are also there.
This relationship sounds like one that could turn out badly. But your father is an adult and you must realize and recognize his right to make unwise or unhealthy choices, motivated by loneliness or other needs. Avoid expressing non-negotiables during this time.
Your overall attitude toward him should remain, “We love you and we want you to be happy. But we have needs and responsibilities, too. The kids just lost their grandmother. We want you to stay close, and it would be great if you could see it in your heart to continue to visit, solo, until we all adjust to your new reality.”
Dear Amy: My twin sister leads a chaotic life. After her second failed marriage and a health scare, she moved in with me. She stayed for about a year, and then moved in with a guy. After that failed, she got her own apartment, but left a lot of things at my place.
Here is my problem: I am ready to move out of town. I am being told that if I move, I will need to rent a storage shed, and my response is, “No, I don’t. My things will fit fine wherever I go.”
My family seems to think I have to put my twin’s things into a storage place. She tells me she has no room at her place. Why is that my problem? She has “stored” her things for well over six years at my place.
My twin has had plenty of time to get her things, but has refused.
Could you please explain to my family that I am under no obligation to take her things with me? It is not my problem.
Dear Excessive: Disengage. Stop discussing this with your family.
Never put yourself on the hook for a monthly storage fee.
Notify everyone of your move-out date. If your sister doesn’t retrieve her things, they will land in a Dumpster somewhere.
Enjoy your new life.
Dear Amy: “Supportive Friends” was worried about a man who continued to post messages about his late wife on Facebook. You noted that he might have set up a page in her memory.
I lost a son in a car accident in 2010. One of his friends started a Facebook memorial for him, and to this day I still wish him a happy birthday, Merry Christmas, and remember all other special occasions. So, yes, I think it helps.
Dear Remembering: This seems natural, normal, and healthy. I’m happy you’ve found this way to communicate through this time.
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.