My sister-in-law had a full-blown mid-life crisis, divorced her husband at age 40, married within the year, had two children and lived in the cab of a truck with her spouse.
They’d solicit money from different folks (including my wife and I). But when given a condition from her parents that she return to the family home, it led to a fight with the husband and broken contact.
We soon got a cash request, "We're stuck in the desert, no access to food and water ….” We gave them enough to get to town and suddenly they needed $1500 more to replace an engine.
We decided on "No." The family’s out of danger and we don’t support their risky lifestyle.
Two Questions: 1. Hard to say No when their children are at risk, but how can we avoid further exploitation?
- Should we get more involved in trying to make a change?
They’re healthy adults capable of work. He’s very controlling (the family hasn’t seen them in person in six years despite attempts). We're concerned about the kids' health, education, and safety.
Talk to Children’s Safety/Services in your jurisdiction to learn what constitutes child risk and legal intervention.
The father’s controlled absence from family oversight is very worrisome. It may take the threat of intervention for him to understand that parents must be visible and accountable regarding their children’s welfare.
He should be confronted, whether by family or legal authorities.
My daughter and her wife have been together over nine years yet still disagree on everything from politics to child-rearing.
My daughter holds down two jobs then comes home to cook dinner, insisting it’s a task she loves.
Her wife only works part-time and minimally. She’s well-read and informed, having time for it.
Their young kids, ages nine and seven, are growing up normal and healthy so something’s going right, despite my worrying.
I wish there would be something I can do that would help the couple recognize the imbalance of responsibilities in their current lifestyle.
I worry about the children growing up with conflicting messages and role models from their parents.
What can I say?
Say nothing. You might feel that’s unfair to your daughter, whom you believe is saddled unfairly with too many of the responsibilities of their life together.
But unless she’s somehow being forced to carry the bigger load, being abused emotionally, mentally or physically to maintain that role, she’s an adult who can speak for herself.
She may’ve chosen her partner precisely because she wanted to take care of her, and may get great satisfaction from doing so.
Are they both doing everything the best possible way? Probably not (and who’s perfect?) though your view is naturally prejudiced on the side of your daughter.
But the pros and cons of how these two manage their life together, will eventually become apparent through the children… whether they’re well-adjusted, secure, and thriving.
It’s also through the children that you can play a meaningful role.
Instead of scrutinizing their parents, spend concentrated time with the kids: Be loving, playful, encouraging, and interested in what interests them.
Read with them, watch age-appropriate programs and movies together, talk about the ideas they have, the sports and games they enjoy.
Whenever possible, over the years attend their school plays, athletic events, dance/music/art performances.
Your caring presence and proud involvement as a grandparent becomes a major stabilizing ingredient of support for this family.
FEEDBACK Regarding the 85-year-old woman having an affair with a man whose wife’s in a nursing home (August 6):
Reader #1 – “It shouldn’t matter that his wife’s ill, or they haven't had sex in years. We could all make up thousands of excuses to cheat.
“So, if one of you should fall ill and the other person has needs that must be met, it should ONLY be with the ill person’s blessings.”
Reader #2 – “Finally, a letter about old people! My husband’s two years older than I am and in better shape. I’ve made a will that cuts him off.
“He gets half of my very good pension. All my assets are separate.
“I’ve cut him off because he broke the marriage contract (through adultery) years ago and we never negotiated a new contract.
“We came very close to separating but managed to hang in as “just room-mates” ever since.”
Tip of the day:
Don’t stand by or withdraw help when children may be living in unsafe conditions or at serious risk of abuse/neglect/isolation.