Dear Annie: My mother passed away two years ago. She had been with “Biff” for about 13 years. Biff is a jerk. Most of the family discontinued all contact with my mother because no one could stand him. I tolerated him, but he made me uncomfortable.
When I was a teenager, he made sexual comments to me, and I moved out of the house as soon as I could. He was also verbally abusive of my younger brother. Biff only behaved this way when Mom was at work, and when we told her, she did nothing.
I am now 32, and even though my mother is gone, Biff is determined to stay in my life. He refers to my three-year-old as his “granddaughter.” He visits us at my work, where my daughter is in a daycare program. My husband and I are expecting our second baby soon, and there is no reason for Biff to consider himself related in any way to this child. My daughter will be starting a preschool program soon. When I told Biff, he said he would come to my house to see her. Annie, I do not want him coming into my home.
I need a way to tell Biff that there is no longer a reason for him to hang around. He has a grown daughter and two grandchildren of his own. He makes no effort to push himself on them — only me. Biff is verbally violent, and I am afraid he will erupt if I ask him to back off.
How do I handle this mess? Is it possible to get rid of this man without any major blowup? — Frightened
Dear Frightened: Biff has been your stepfather for 13 years and believes he is part of your family. Set some boundaries, and maintain your distance. Insist he call before coming over. Try to arrange meetings at neutral places, such as playgrounds or the zoo, and when your husband can be with you. Keep the visits brief, and gradually let them become less frequent. If he yells, leave. If his verbal abuse becomes physical, call the police.
Dear Annie: My husband’s childhood friend, who is almost 50, is getting married for the first time, and the wedding is in the Bahamas.
Travelling to the wedding and staying at the resort is a great expense. Do we still need to give a gift? Money is tight, and since we don’t often see this friend, I think what he truly wants is our support and presence.
Still, it feels strange not giving something.
Would it be OK for several of his friends to each contribute a small amount and combine it into one gift card the newlyweds could use to purchase one big gift they would enjoy? What is the correct thing to do? — Bewildered with the Bahamas
Dear Bewildered: A gift is expected, but should be something you can afford. A combined gift card is fine. So is a bottle of wine. But do make sure there is a card with your good wishes.