Dear Annie: Our oldest son married a beautiful woman from another culture, who then became pregnant with our only grandson, “Seth.”
We were warned that “Zelda” was a gold digger who would leave our son after having the baby and live on the child support. Apparently Zelda’s older sister had done this a few years earlier. True to form, Zelda left when Seth was a toddler, and they eventually divorced. Zelda’s plans were upset, however, because our son managed to get joint custody.
Now Zelda has become increasingly hateful and manipulative. She rarely attends counselling sessions and has initiated numerous legal procedures, always losing her demands for more money and full custody.
I worry that Zelda’s behaviour is harmful to Seth, now 7. She tells him to keep secrets from his dad, refuses to let Dad talk to him on the phone and won’t discuss our grandson’s medical appointments and camp openings with his father.
My husband and I do not live in the same state, but we visit often and take Seth on trips whenever we can arrange it. But we find ourselves questioning Zelda’s sanity when we read some of the vicious emails she sends him (she copies us along with our son’s lawyer), threatening legal repercussions if he phones her or addresses her by her first name. (He has to call her “Ms. Smith.”)
We never speak to Zelda. She appears to have the mistaken impression that I’m on her side, but of course, I find her behaviour reprehensible. She lost her last job and does not work.
She openly sleeps with a man who refuses to tell our son his name. When she stays at her boyfriend’s house, Seth sleeps in the bed with them. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. — Trying Not To Judge
Dear Judge: If Seth is sleeping in the same bed as his mother and a boyfriend, your son may have grounds to ask for full custody, and he should discuss it with his lawyer immediately.
Then be a source of support for your son, give your grandson as much love and stability as you can, and encourage his father to promote the strength of character Seth will need to grow up emotionally healthy.
Dear Annie: My son and his girlfriend are holding their wedding at my home, which is 2,000 miles away from where they live. The costs for out-of-town guests who wish to attend will be substantial.
My future daughter-in-law mentioned that her maid of honour would be contacting me about a shower. I was initially enthusiastic, but upon reflection, thought this might add a greater burden on those planning to attend the wedding. Is it appropriate to hold a shower when it is a destination wedding? I feel a little embarrassed to send invitations to my family members. — Deborah
Dear Deborah: If the shower takes place where your son lives, it actually provides an opportunity for guests who are unable to attend the wedding to celebrate with the bride-to-be. Either way, only local guests should be invited, with the exception of the mothers and grandmothers of the bride and groom. Those who find it excessive can decline.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Not Family Yet,” whose fiance’s Grandpa molested his mom and sister and the family has kept the secret under wraps.
Covering up to avoid social embarrassment is like hiding evidence of a crime.
She needs to tell her fiance that she cannot marry into a family that would conspire to commit a crime against children, and that the family members need to seek help for Grandpa and inform the sister-in-law, or she will have no choice but to break off the engagement and call the authorities. I know from personal experience the lifelong effect childhood sexual abuse causes. — Been There
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.