DEAR AMY: My father is going through a divorce with his second wife. They have been married for the past 20 years and the divorce is pretty messy. I have asked both of them to keep the details of who said what and who did what to themselves. My stepmother, “Daisy,” has agreed to this, but my father keeps trying to drag me in. I finally put my foot down and told him that I didn’t care who did what, and that I wanted to keep both of them in my life and my children’s lives. He responded by calling me horrible names. After that, he went a little crazy. Daisy now has a restraining order on him, and I have called 911, worried about suicidal postings on social media. When my sister went over to his house recently, he was drinking and doing drugs. I have not spoken to him in almost a month because I am done with his lifetime of manipulative behavior and emotional abuse to everyone around him. I realize he needs help, but I can’t seem to help him. Now, out of nowhere, he’s sending me texts about his new girlfriend, whom he wants me to meet. It hasn’t even been two weeks since he said he had nothing left to live for. His divorce isn’t even finalized yet, which is his business, but I do not want to meet her. Am I right to make this decision to cut him off from me and my children? If I do this, could we mend things in the future?
Putting My Foot Down
DEAR PUTTING: Your father is at a crisis point, as he veers from one extreme to another. You have chosen not to get sucked into his current drama, and this seems like the wisest course for you and your children. You should always respond to him calmly and honestly: “Dad, I’m worried about you. Your behavior has been so extreme lately. You need to see a doctor. I’m happy if you’re happy, but I need to wait a while and let things calm down before meeting the new person in your life. I’ll let you know when I’m ready.”
You are absolutely right to call 911 whenever you become aware of him expressing suicidal thoughts.
DEAR AMY: My girlfriend’s brother is engaged to “Tammy,” a girl he’s known for a year. It seems like Tammy is trying a little too hard to be a “part of the family.” She hangs out with my girlfriend and her family a lot. Sometimes she hangs out with my girlfriend’s mom on her own, going shopping and cooking together like mother and daughter. It feels to me like she’s trying to edge out my girlfriend for her mother’s affection. I just heard Tammy was planning on having my girlfriend’s father walk her down the aisle because, apparently, she doesn’t have a good relationship with her family. This upset my girlfriend, but she feels dejected and is reluctant to say anything. I feel that I should talk to her dad about this. I think Tammy is pushing things too much, especially since we’ll be planning our own wedding soon. Am I overreacting to all this and being selfish? How should I go about salvaging this situation?
DEAR EXASPERATED: Your girlfriend should speak to her parents, and simply and honestly tell them that she is starting to feel squeezed out. Do they enjoy “Tammy’s” presence? If they do, that’s a good thing, but any parent would want to know if their daughter is feeling tender and insecure. They may tell their daughter to get over herself. Or they may appreciate knowing how she is feeling, and make efforts to alter the dynamic.
A close and healthy relationship between all of the actors in this family drama is ideal. Tammy will be an in-law to all of you, and your girlfriend will have to find a way to share her family.
If your girlfriend asks you to represent her to her parents, then you should.
DEAR AMY: You were much too kind in your response to “Confused Coward,” the man who has two girlfriends, neither of which know of the other. If he doesn’t do something soon, one or both of them will find out and then he could end up with no girlfriends. I am curious how he has managed to keep them apart. He is a two-timing jerk.
DEAR DISGUSTED: He’s definitely lying to both women.