DEAR AMY: Two weeks ago I called my father to let him know that my fiance and I were bringing our wedding date forward to this January. My dad and I spoke briefly, as usual, and then hung up. Five minutes later he called back to say he would not be attending our wedding. When I asked why, he said he just didn't like weddings. I told him this wasn't a good enough excuse, and then he said he didn't want to be a hassle due to his disability (he requires a wheelchair). My fiance's father is similarly disabled, and so we're already making arrangements for him. I told my father this and he said he may come to the reception. My father then mentioned our distant relationship as a reason I wouldn't care if he was there anyway. Due to an unhappy home life with him because of anger issues, I did move in with my mother when I was 13. But we're past that now and have an OK, but not close, relationship -- partly due to the fact that I live two hours away. My father is quite isolated and I feel as if he's saying no because he doesn't feel comfortable leaving his home. How do I approach him? I don't mind if he doesn't want to stay for the reception. For me the most important part is the ceremony.
DEAR BRIDE: If possible you should visit your father in order to confront his fears and doubts in as gentle and loving a way as you can. His waffling makes it sound as if he is nervous on many levels -- not only about managing his disability while at your wedding, but also about his fatherly role.
My instinct is that he might be avoiding the ceremony because he is not able to "walk" you down the aisle -- or he doesn't know if you want him to. One way to address this would be to have your beloved (or a friend or other family member) push his wheelchair down the aisle with you walking alongside; or (my preference), for you and your beloved to walk down the aisle together, acknowledging your family members when you arrive at the end of the aisle.
If you can, it would make things easiest for you to enlist a friend of your dad's (or a family member) to take him to this wedding and be his buddy, helpmate and companion while there.
DEAR AMY: My son may have fathered the child of my brother-in-law's daughter. My son has no biological link to the mother, thank goodness, but this changes the dynamics of our family. Once DNA results are received and it does turn out to be his, how do I handle communicating to certain members of the family who should know but can't keep their mouths shut in their social circles? My gut tells me this will turn out to be my grandchild instead of my "great-niece." She is a beautiful, sweet 6-month-old and I love the mother as if she were my own. This was a result of a one-time thing and both are on their own paths with significant others. My son is marrying his fiance in the fall, she is aware and accepting; it all happened before they met. I'm sick to my stomach over this and don't know how to deal with difficult family members who are loose-lipped, self-righteous and judgmental.
DEAR GRAM: The way to avoid gossipy, judgmental family members is to "own" whatever the truth happens to be with grace. It helps if you genuinely don't care what other people might be thinking -- or saying. So give them this headline: "This baby is the result of a brief and awkward relationship. And everybody is calmly moving forward and they all love this child. Imagine that?!"
DEAR AMY: A recent respondent to your column stated, "Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have." Good advice, but now I'm sitting in a disciplinary meeting, dressed as Batman!
DEAR JOHN: I'm going as Carol Burnett!