Dear Annie: Our son and daughter-in-law were divorced after 15 years of marriage. They have two beautiful young children, and they are both excellent parents. We are fortunate to have a good relationship with our ex-daughter-in-law. Our son is now seeing "Alisa." She is a lovely person, and we like her a lot. Very soon, our son will be bringing her to our home for the first time.
Throughout our house, we still have photos of our son and his ex-wife in happier times. We also still have their wedding photo on our wall, along with the wedding photos of our other children. Our son feels these photos should be put away when he brings Alisa over for dinner, and he'd like his wedding photo removed permanently. He says he will feel uncomfortable having these pictures around when his girlfriend is here.
We understand his point but are unsure how to handle the situation. My husband and I have decided to drop this question in your lap, Annie. This is our home. Must we remove these photos? We read your column faithfully and respect your answers, so we will abide by your response. Parents of Three
Dear Parents: You don't have to remove the photographs, but it would be considerate of you to display them in another part of the house, where they are less visible, and where Alisa is not likely to see them. It's really not a lot to ask, and your son will appreciate this small sacrifice.
Dear Annie: Last year, I cut off contact with my brother, "Chuck," because he is an obnoxious alcoholic, and my husband and I had put up with 20 years of his abuse. Last year, after a particularly nasty incident, I decided that the only way to get through to Chuck was to tell him that we love him, we wish him the best, but until he can show us a 30-day chip from AA, and we accompany him to a session with a therapist, we will no longer have any contact.
The problem is the rest of my family. I am constantly pressured to mend fences with Chuck. Although I've explained to each and every one of them that the fence is not mine to mend, they are becoming more and more aggressive about it. I have told them they are enabling Chuck, but my point isn't getting through. I resent my relatives' smug "you need to make amends" attitude. I have done nothing wrong by cutting a mean, nasty, abusive drunk out of my life. Any suggestions? Family Trouble in California
Dear Family Trouble: Yes. Stop defending yourself. If your brother's drinking involves abuse, you don't have to make excuses. When the subject comes up, simply say, "I'm sorry you feel that way," and then refuse to discuss it further. While we think families should try to maintain contact, we also understand that it is sometimes not possible. You might tell your relatives to try Al-Anon (al-anon-alateen.org) if they really want to help Chuck.
Dear Annie: I was upset by the letter from "Dealing With Dementia in Canada," whose wife didn't want their young child to visit the aged grandparents in the nursing home. She said they were "no longer the people they once were." That is untrue and unfair. Would she say that to a 30-year-old who became disabled?
My mother is 92, and when we go out, people direct their questions to me, as if Mom can't hear or understand. It is terrible how we do not respect our senior population. Have you talked to an older person in the last month? You might learn something. Remember, we all will be there someday. Aware in California
Dear Aware: Thanks for laying it on the line. We all want to be treated with respect, no matter how old.
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