DEAR ABBY: My parents went through a bitter divorce five years ago and have had little to no contact since then. During the process of the divorce, their communication was through my siblings and me, which took a toll on us. However, despite the turmoil of the divorce, we are still close to both of them.
I’m a medical student who will be graduating next year. I recently brought up the idea of having a graduation party, but my father says he refuses to come if Mom or anyone from her side of the family will be there. This led to a discussion about future weddings and events that will most likely happen soon.
My siblings and I are in our mid- to late-20s, and Dad insists he won’t attend any future events that Mom will attend, even if it’s his own child’s wedding. It was extremely difficult to hear.
My siblings and I can’t imagine him boycotting something just because he doesn’t want to be in the presence of our mother. We all think he’s overreacting and needs to get over the past. Must we get over the fact that he doesn’t want to be around our mother and allow him to skip these important days? — CHILD OF DIVORCE IN MICHIGAN
DEAR CHILD: Your father may be angry, but he is also being selfish and childish. By telling you what he did, he’s attempting to manipulate you into choosing between him and your mother.
By asking me whether you should "allow" him to skip these important milestones, you appear to be under the impression that you can somehow control your father. You CANNOT control the actions of another adult. You can, however, control the way you react to his behavior.
You and your siblings should not allow yourselves to be manipulated. "Remind" your father that if he follows through with his threat, he will be missed, and the only person he’ll be hurting is himself.
DEAR ABBY: My best friend from college recently had a baby. I had planned a trip to visit her, and during my visit, she said, we would visit the local pool. A week before I was set to leave, she notified me that I would have to wear a T-shirt over my bathing suit at all times because my "fit body" would make her neighbors who have "mom bodies" uncomfortable, and she doesn’t want to upset them.
I was shocked and offended for women of all sizes. I responded that I would never be uncomfortable with anyone’s mom body or ask them to cover up, and I won’t wear a T-shirt. My bathing suit is not skimpy and would not be considered revealing by any standards. She responded that if I have a problem with it, I should just not come. Help! — SHOCKED AND OFFENDED
DEAR SHOCKED AND OFFENDED: Be neither shocked nor offended. I agree that no one should have to cover their bodies. I suspect your best friend from college is not happy with HER post-baby body right now and wants to avoid comparisons. Tell her you understand, and try to reschedule a visit during ski season.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.