DEAR AMY: I am a father with two adult children from a 25-year marriage that ended six years ago. I got remarried 18 months ago to a woman that my adult children suspect ended my marriage to their mother (in reality, there were huge issues with my marriage of 25 years). I accepted that my adult children would have nothing to do with the woman who is now my wife — not even allowing her to share dinners out with them. I have had therapists tell me that it may take years for adult children to accept a stepmother. I continued to stay in touch with my children and have visited them without my wife, which wasn’t easy for her. Obviously, she sees this as rejection. I was doing it because I love and miss my kids. For the last six months, however, my 30-year-old son (who lives out of state) stopped communicating with me entirely. He made weak excuses during his recent trip home that he was too busy for him and his live-in girlfriend to meet me (and me alone), for dinner. This will devastate me until it is rectified. Thankfully, my daughter continues to have a solid relationship with me. I emailed my son to try and “clear the air” and talk turkey about what is going on, but he does not respond. I always try to take the “high road,” but there are only so many times one can reach out before it is unhealthy for both individuals. I just hope he comes around soon and talks to me. Is there anything I can do with dignity to have my son stop ostracizing me?
DEAR DEVASTATED: One perspective on this is that you have permitted your son to try to punish you (and blackball your wife) for 18 months, but when that didn’t give him personal or emotional traction, he decided to up the ante.
Both of your adult children might be torn by loyalty to their mother, or their mother might be making things very difficult for them. (This is one reason to try to maintain an amicable relationship with your ex.)
There is a very tough balance between understanding this rejection of your current wife, and reckoning with your own desire to see your children — and the necessity for adults to eventually accept one another’s partners. It is a tough truth that your marriage will suffer if you continue to allow your adult children to remain estranged from your wife.
You should keep in touch with your son periodically with personal updates, tell him you miss him and encourage him to get in touch when he is ready. If you have something to apologize for, then apologize and offer to talk. If you created extra-sadness for your ex-wife by leaping into your current relationship quickly, then you should acknowledge and apologize to your ex, also.
What you should not negotiate over is the fact that you are now married to someone else. At some point, both of your children must let your wife accompany you into their lives.
DEAR AMY: My husband looks at his phone, dialing numbers, sending and reading texts, etc. while driving. I believe this is unsafe, even for a second. Our child will be driving in a few years and this is dangerous behavior to model. My husband’s response is, “You could never be a pilot” (he is) because, “you can’t do two things at once.” My response is that he could kill or injure us, plus there are safety alarms, etc. in airplanes not found in cars. I would be OK with driving all the time, but that doesn’t fix when he does drive with my child or others in the car. I’m a critical care nurse and all about safety. Any advice?
Worried Pilot’s Wife
DEAR WORRIED: According to the National Safety Council (NSC.org), an estimated 1.6 million car crashes were caused by texting in 2017.
How many major airlines experienced crashes in 2017?
Your husband is presumably a data guy. Point him toward the data and ask him to treat his family members like the precious cargo you are.
DEAR AMY: “Anguished Mother” reported that a stranger approached her young adopted son and suggested DNA testing for the boy. I would not have believed this, except I am the parent of an adopted child of a different race. You would NOT believe the things strangers say to us!
DEAR BEEN THERE: I’m in the same boat. And yes, I would believe it.