My mom’s 59 and involved with a man whom she’s hiding from my sister and me. She doesn't know we’ve learned all about their relationship over three years.
She’s been apart from our dad for 30 years, and bounced from one bad relationship to another.
She knows we’d disapprove of this man due to his criminal record. Also, she cheated on her previous boyfriend with him.
Whenever we invite her for dinner, or to visit her grandkids, she lies about being busy.
We’d been close for many years. I’m sad that she cannot come clean. If she’s happy with him, why hide it from us?
Should we confront her or continue to feel resentment when she lies to see him behind our backs?
Talking openly with your mom is the only way to get her to do the same. Don’t “confront” her. She clearly chooses whomever she wants. It’s your anticipated disapproval that’s holding her back.
Tell her you know, then gently ask leading questions… e.g. what is it she likes about him, why she avoids her family, etc.
Say you both miss her, as do her grandkids. Any relationship should allow time for family, and if it doesn’t, why not?
If you show the possibility of accepting this guy, you’ll have a chance to assess whether he’s treating her decently. That’s what matters most.
My sister-in-law invites her sister, her sister’s husband, and their three children to every gathering of my side of the family.
Once, I invited her to a small holiday get-together for all our children.
She’d already made plans with her sister, so, her sister’s kids would come too. I felt this was rude, and that she should’ve asked.
I suggested she keep her plans and come over at night. (My husband doesn't care much for her family).
She cried to my brother about it. He talked to me several weeks later and things got ugly. She said lots of things about me I didn't like.
My whole family got involved in this drama. It’s now blown over, but I feel that my feelings and wishes don’t matter to her and my brother. Other family members feel this too.
However, she’s very sensitive. She’ll make my brother the middle man.
Two of my elder family members don’t want her sister and family at every gathering, but I’ve seen my brother beg my dad to let these people attend.
Now, for (American) Thanksgiving, I plan on having just my family over.
How do I delicately tell her this? I don't want to hurt anyone but I should be able to have a dinner at my house, on my terms.
Flummoxed in Florida
There’s mutual discomfort on both sides – yours and your sister-in-law’s. Not to mention mutual rudeness – her pushing her sister’s involvement, your side trying to block them.
She may be very sensitive but she’s also a very caring sister, and that’s a nice trait. Perhaps her sister’s her only family, and likely she already feels excluded by yours.
Of course, you’re entitled to have a Thanksgiving dinner that purposely keeps the door shut on her sister. Even though it goes against the holiday spirit of generous gratitude for all you have.
You already know it’ll hurt her and cause trouble for your brother. It’ll increase divisiveness, instead of modelling for your own kids and elders who should know better, that family gatherings are meant to create bonds.
You could be the bigger person here: Your choice.
My daughter, 53, and I, haven’t communicated in three months. She’s experienced tough times with a separation and lawsuit.
Whenever we met, the conversation became tense. I lost patience listening about it constantly, and couldn’t withhold my opinion and criticism.
She’d accuse me of not supporting her. I said I love her, but I don’t have to agree with her on everything, though I wish her the best.
She hasn’t called me since, nor have I called her.
Should I be the one to call first? I’ve apologized sincerely for criticizing her and asked her forgiveness, but no response.
She needs good legal advice, not her mother’s criticism. And she already knows your opinions.
Call her. Say you were wrong, not just sorry. She has a heavy load to bear, so offer to help in any possible way – with her kids if there are any, with providing her with a break (a play, a movie, a spa massage, etc.).
Tip of the day:
You can’t know whether Mom’s boyfriend treats her decently without meeting him.