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A Son Is a Son Until He Takes a Wife

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Dear Annie: I am a junior in high school. I have been with my wonderful girlfriend, "Maria," since our freshman year. Her parents won't let her officially date until she is 16, which will be soon.

Last year, at her 15th birthday party, I gave Maria a ticket to a formal dance. She was flattered, but her dad got angry, questioned me about my intentions and asked why I didn't first get his permission to take her.

I apologized and said I thought you only had to ask the father about marriage. Now when I see him, he refuses to shake my hand and acts insulted. Worse, because he won't let Maria date, I only spend time with her at school. And if I go to a party without her, she gets mad.

I don't think I have done anything wrong. Is there anything I can do to bring her dad around and possibly be able to take Maria out? — Lovesick Teen

Dear Teen: If Maria cannot date until she is 16, you will gain more points with Dad if you respect that and stop pushing his boundaries. See her at school until her birthday. Then talk to her father and ask if you can take Maria out, preferably with a group of friends. Dad needs to feel that his little girl is safe with you. See that she is.

Dear Annie: When I was pregnant with my second son, my mother and others said it was "too bad" because girls stay close to their families and boys don't.

My boys are now 6 and 9, and I think of those comments every day. I have a very loving home, and I kiss my kids all the time and tell them I love them and am proud of them. We have dinners at home, and my husband and I talk to them about their lives and keep on top of schooling, friends, etc. Right now, they are sweet, affectionate kids, but I'm so worried that they will disappear when they grow older and marry.

I have a co-worker who never sees her son and knows little about his daily life.

While she is fine with that, it horrifies me. My husband isn't concerned because he is close to his mom (me, too), but it still itches at my brain. I don't want "mama's boys," but what can I do to keep a close relationship with my boys as they grow up? — Michigan

Dear Michigan: The old adage, "A son is a son until he takes a wife; a daughter is a daughter the rest of her life," has some basis in fact. Girls identify with their mothers, and since women tend to maintain the social structure of the home, their family preferences win out. We recommend you maintain an open and honest relationship with your boys, and when they are teens, it's OK to tell them you hope they will stay close even after they marry. And then make friends with their wives and treat them with respect. Those women need to know you accept them without judging and will love them as if they were your own.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Help, Please," and was impressed by how much this family is trying to do for their elderly parents. Here are a few suggestions:

They can contact the local agency on aging or senior center for advice and assistance. Many states have a 211 resource and referral hotline. Local hospitals usually have a social services office that could advise them. The parents' primary care doctor can make a referral to a visiting nurse agency to assess their home-care needs and safety. They may qualify for home care services through their Medicare insurance.

Finally, if the family fears that the parents are unable to make safe decisions and are at risk of harm, they may need to call Adult Protective Services. — MSW

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

96 Comments | Post Comment
LW1- If Maria is almost sixteen,you only have to wait a little longer to date her. Be patient and respect her father's desire to protect his daughter. It probably seems like a long time to wait, but in the long run, you will gain her father's respect and trust if you show him the respect that the protective father of the girl you love deserves.


LW2- When people repeat the adage about sons, remind them that your husband is close to his mother. Take encouragement in this fact when you worry about losing your sons when they marry. If you love your sons and treat their wives well ,they will want you in their lives when they become adults. Instead of fearing the future,look forward to the possiblity that one day you may be a beloved grandmother.
Comment: #1
Posted by:
Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:11 PM
In this day and age of Boomerang kids, the poem needs to be changed.

A son is a son till he takes him a wife, and then they both live with you the rest of your life.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Joannakathryn
Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:42 PM
LW1: What Marty and the Annies said.

LW2: I never heard that expression about daughters and sons before, and it doesn't make any sense to me now that I have heard it. I have heard too many stories of where it was the other way around.

You're on the right track, LW2. Don't sweat it. Keep doing what you're doing, and when your boys are grown up, make every effort to befriend the women they bring home. The one thing you must not do is criticize their wives or girlfriends. That WILL drive sons away.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Matt
Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:24 AM
LW2 -- "A son is a son until he takes a wife; a daughter is a daughter the rest of her life," has some basis in fact....

Perhaps, but not necessarily because girls identify with their mothers or that women tend to be responsible for maintaining social structure in the home. In many cases a new girlfriend or new wife will purposely set about isolating her husband from his family. How many letters have we fielded here in which a wife finds half an excuse to hate her in-laws or from family members whose brother never spends time with his family while spending every holiday with his wife's family. Some women need to be the center of their husband's universe so they set about killing his relationships with his own family and friends; it's death by a thousand paper cuts. Sadly, the men are usually oblivious to this tactic and succumb to it. If the LW wants to ensure that her boys remain close to the family once they grow up and marry, then she needs to teach them how to show a little backbone and stand their ground when their wives or girlfriends begin to find fault with their family and then manufacture excuses not to spend time with them.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Chris
Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:02 AM
The saying has meaning only in the West, where it is traditional for daughters to take care of their aging parents. In the East it's the exact opposite. I know the Korean immigrants across the street feel so sorry for us that we have only girls. Their little boys have told us so, and we laugh.
Comment: #5
Posted by: paco
Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:16 AM
Re: LW1 -- you have made your situation more difficult by pushing at your girlfriend's father's rules. That wasn't smart, and because you did indeed make a mistake, and because he does get to make the rules for her until she's 18, it would be best if you were very respectful and followed his rules and worked to regain his respect.

(That being said, I sometimes fear that parents making such strict rules for the children won't have serious problems with rebellion as the kids get older.)

Re: LW2, there have been some good comments so far, but I'm a little concerned about the fact that the LW seems to be obsessing about this, and especially because her boys won't even be going to college for another 10 years or so! You may in fact help to create the situation you fear because you have so much anxiety about it.

My mom had a poor relationship with her only sibling, and so, when my sibling and I were kids, she was "determined" that we would have a great relationship... she was so afraid that my sibling and I would recreate the poor relationship that she had with hers. And you know what? All of the things she did throughout the years to "artificially create" a close sibling relationship completely backfired, and we aren't close at all.

Some things just happen. You will have no control over this once your kids are adults. And if you've spent their entire childhood and adolescence fretting about them leaving you, and trying to do all sorts of things to "bind" your sons to you, could backfire. You should do all the things you would normally do, but... listen, teens rebel against their parents. And college kids focus on their studies, their newfound independence, figuring out who they are without parental oversight. And adult children date, get married, get jobs, set up households in a different state... and NONE of this may be a reflection on how close they feel to you, it may simply be the way they want their life to unfold for all sorts of reasons OTHER than how they feel about you.

You. Will not. Be the center of their lives anymore. Once they are adults. And that's a GOOD thing.

You know what will make them respect you as teens and adults? You know what will help retain a good relationship while they head off in their own direction? Letting them go. Because then they'll want to return, want to keep in contact.

But the more you cling to them, the more you try to make yourself one of the hubs of their universe, the more you question them or try to make them feel guilty -- the more you'll push them away.

It's hard to tell from the letter if you'd go this far. Maybe you won't, maybe you'll realize if you just keep being the good mother you are, then whatever bumps the teen years bring, you'll all get through them, and they'll become adults that want to stay close to you. And that will be good, and natural.

But the more you try to force it, the worse it can become. And... honestly, I'd try to figure out some way to stop worrying about it, stop focusing on it. Focus on your children as they are *now*, not what they might be in ten years. Believe me, there will be plenty of surprises along the way, situations you couldn't anticipate in a million years, and all this worrying is not healthy. ("I think of those comments every day" -- is just not healthy when your kids are only 6 and 9.)

Comment: #6
Posted by: Mike H
Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:30 AM
LW1 - I wonder if Maria's father is from another culture. I've never heard of an American father thinking boys should ask their permission before asking their daughters out, but I have heard of it in other cultures. I don't think Maria has a right to prevent LW1 from attending parties without her. She needs to have more empathy and realize that LW1's parents aren't restricting him from going to parties and so as long as he goes and isn't unfaithful to Maria, he's not doing anything wrong. It would be nice if LW1 could endear himself to Maria's parents, but sometimes, you just can't. Hopefully, he'll be able to.

LW2 - I think it all depends on how you raise your kids. I've witnessed in our culture that it does seem to be true that as the Annies said "women tend to maintain the social structure of the home." I think all parents should teach their children, regardless of gender, to do the same types of things. If you ask your daughters to write thank you notes or send letters to family members using stationery, you should ask your sons to, too. I've seen many people, friends and family, where the women will decide to have a gathering and invite people over. The women will come up with snacks and a meal. That type of thing is how "women tend to maintain the social structure." And a lot of the boys/men don't keep in touch with others or make any efforts. Especially in my parents' generation, I see that the wives are the ones who send birthday cards or buy holiday gifts for extended family, even the husband's family. My generation seems to be more even with grooms writing thank you cards for gifts from their friends and family instead of the bride being the only one who writes thank you cards for all the wedding gifts. I might remind my husband that his father's birthday is coming, but I don't shop for or buy the birthday card or mail it. That's up to my husband. I think as males become more accustomed to keeping in touch, picking up phones and calling relatives and being more thoughtful, then it will be less common for them to drift away from their families.
Comment: #7
Posted by: FAW
Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:38 AM
Re: Chris
"In many cases a new girlfriend or new wife will purposely set about isolating her husband from his family"
This has nothing do to with sons or daughters. That is called dividing to reign better, it is controlling bevaviour and it proceeds from an abusive mindset, so that access to emotional support and a reality check is denied to the abused for better control . How many wife-beaters do the exact sdame thing? All of them.

Comment: #8
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:40 AM
LW1 - The Annie's gave you good advice. However, since her father has shown that he doesn't care for you, don't be surprised if he doesn't give you permission to date her. If that happens...I guess she'll continue to be your "girlfriend" without actually dating her.

LW2 - First of all, anybody who tells a pregnant woman "that's too bad" because she's having a boy, a girl or whatever other reason is beyond rude! How could someone say that?? Is "congratulations" too hard?? That reminds me of when my cousin and his wife announced they were having their 4th child and several people said to them, "Better you than me!" Rude! Anyway...to the LW...you really need to not worry about this. That old addage about the son is a son is old fashioned. My brother is married with children and he and my mother are close and he is NOT a mama's boy. As a matter of fact, all of my married male cousins and friends are close to their mothers...except for one...and that's because his mother has criticized his wife (Matt is right when he says doing that will drive your sons away). As long as you maintain a good relationship with your sons, respect their growing independence as they grow older and accept their girlfriend or wife, you won't have any issues.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Michelle
Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:52 AM
Don't pay attention to what everyone else tells you. I have two boys that are married, with children, and I can not tell you the last time they did not call their mother. As mentioned above, they are not momma's boys, but the only advice that I instilled in them was famll first. No one will be there when you need them except your family. My daughters are the same. I am proud of my children and at this time, I do not have to "guess" what they are doing or when I will hear from them again. It is how you raise your children. If this young man does not contact his mother, you may want to aske why. Did she try and control his life? Did she do something that made him mad? Sons and daughters in today's society need all the nurturing they can get from mothers and fathers without smothering them. Believe me, my jusband is 51 years old ad we check on his parens weekly. Remember, its how you raise them and the values you instill in them that keeps them coming. PS: My 28 year old son just spent the weekend home. Why? His mother was under the weather. Love all your children the same. I do!
Comment: #10
Posted by: Cynthia
Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:02 AM
Chris said:
"Some women need to be the center of their husband's universe so they set about killing his relationships with his own family and friends; it's death by a thousand paper cuts. Sadly, the men are usually oblivious to this tactic and succumb to it."
Lots of generalizations on both sides, from Chris and from the Annies also.
I've taken care of my mom for the last two and a half years. My SIL has nothing to do with my brother's hatred of my mother, although I think she tags along because it makes her marriage easier. He's the one who didn't want to keep in contact with my mom.
I've met a lot of caregivers for the elderly. A lot of them are women, it's true, but there are a lot of men doing this too, as are a lot of daughter's-in-law.
For all the familial dominatrices out there, Chris, there are just as many daughters, like me, who are taking on the whole of the task of taking care of our elderly parents. Not all women are self-centred and abusive! As Lise pointed out, abusive men isolate women from their families too.
Ageing parents are an issue for many families. I find that generally, whoever stays closest to the parents geographically usually does the most, although there again, I wasn't in that position, nor is a close friend of mine who is also gearing up to be the responsible child.
One thing I have noted, however, is that many of us responsible daughters are put in the position of having to manage brothers who aren't interested in the least in helping out with their ageing parents. I don't think it's fair to blame their wives all the time. After all, these men are adults and I assume that as adults they can make their own decisions about how involved they want to be.

I know I must sound like a broken record when it comes to money and inheritances, but I have to say this: I have a lot of women friends who are caregivers and who seem to go above and beyond in making sure they only "take their share" after a parent has died, even though they have done all the caregiving. I don't understand that because I'm not the sort of women who has martyr tatooed across my forehead.

I know of only one other woman (in my circle of friends) who has my attitude, which is, if I'm doing all the work, I'm not to so keen about splitting things right down the middle. I talked to my mom and she agreed. Like me, she believes in equal pay for equal work and I wish more people would do this when it comes to caregiving for the elderly. My guess is that far fewer elderly parents would be lonely.

If my brother and SIL knew they were going to lose out financially, I doubt that they would have taken such a hands off position and I might have actually gotten some help.
Comment: #11
Posted by: irene
Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:07 AM
Lise wrote, "This has nothing do to with sons or daughters. That is called dividing to reign better, it is controlling bevaviour and it proceeds from an abusive mindset, so that access to emotional support and a reality check is denied to the abused for better control . How many wife-beaters do the exact sdame thing? All of them."

She is absolutly right. My ex-husband was controlling and abusive and he tried very hard to isolate me from my friends and family. My brother's wife hangs out with my family - her in-laws - way more than her own family. It has nothing to do with women...it has to do with being a control freak.

Comment: #12
Posted by: Michelle
Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:08 AM
LW1-
You've already pretty much alienated him by not going by his rules, although I admit you couldn't have known. Now you have to extra-respectful to undo the harm.

Maria is underage and living under her father's roof, her father consequently gets to state the rules until she leaves. Maria is almost 16, I don't see how your "love" could be so urgent that you cannot wait even a few months and HAVE to fight for the right to be wrong. When she turns 16, you can humour the father and respectfully ask permission to date her. In the meantime, you can still see her at school, so it's not like your totally bereft of contact with your beloved Juliet, so I would suggest you cool your jets a little, Romeo.

Perhaps there is a difference in culture here and, if that be the case, I suggest you use your free time to do a little research.

LW2-
Your boys are 6 and 9. They have a ways to go yet before they even start seeing girls as anything but "EEEEW". It would be preferable that you stop obsessing and start seeing the glass as half full - most families do not lose a son but rather gain a daughter. There is no reason why it shouldn't happen that way if you raise your sons to be well-adjusted and treat their SOs with love and respect.

But carry on in this way and the minute your sons start to date, you'll start treating their girls like a threat, your antagonism getting worse as the relationships get more serious. Look, I'm not sure if this feels the same as the mother of one of my exes, but do I detect a tinge of unhealthy jealousy here? You're going to have to resign yourself - mothers don't marry their sons, you cannot be the love of their lives forever. If you cannot bring yourself to mature about this, you WILL drive them away. What Mike H said - keep making a mountain out of this and you may turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Comment: #13
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:13 AM
lw1-i agree that the father is likely from another culture. this may be over the top, but have you considered writing a letter of apology to him, telling him you didn't realize he expected to be asked and promising to respect his rules in the future? i don't think it would hurt.
lw2-my mother-in-law didn't like me. i was not what she wanted for her son. i made sure that we spent a reasonable amount of time with her and that my husband went over to see her without me quite often. she was still his mother, no matter what. during her final illness, he was one of two caregivers and i accepted that he would spend the night frequently. i would visit from time to time, but i tried to put myself in her shoes. if i was that sick and knew i was dying, the last person i would want to see was the unwanted daughter-in-law. some of his family thought i was being callous, but i tried my best to respect her feelings. i treated her the way i would want my daughter-in-law to treat me. not every disliked daughter-in-law is out to sever the mother/son relationship. you may be luckier than my mother-in-law was. you may like your daughters-in-law.
Comment: #14
Posted by: alien07110
Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:55 AM
"and since women tend to maintain the social structure of the home" I'm always amazed at how the annie's can put out such crap.
Comment: #15
Posted by: gerhardt
Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:24 AM
The term that people should be using here is "spouse-beater", not "wife-beater" Research has shown that both genders participate almost equally in domestic violence, in both straight and same-sex couples, and the term "wife-beater" shows a sexist bias that is offensive and misleading. That said, I think the Annies advice about a son is a son is 50 years out of date, when most men worked and most women stayed home to care for their families. With men not being the sole breadwinners anymore, women don't always have the time to "maintain the social structure of the home" and men have taken over more of these privileges. My husband was a stay-at-home dad, and he took care of his parents and visited them while his five sisters did little to help.
Comment: #16
Posted by: Jane
Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:10 AM
LW2: Wait a few years, then introduce your sons to "Maria' of LW1. Trust me, you'll get a daughter who is more than happy to leave her nest and join yours.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Roxeanne de Luca
Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:33 AM
Maybe instead of being from another culture, Maria's father was such a horndog himself in high school that he assumes all other boys are just the way he was. He wouldn't be the first guy who cut a wide swath among the women and then found himself sitting up with a shotgun outside his daughters' bedrooms.
Irene, I'm puzzled about your decision to help yourself to the inheritance. Maybe I'm not reading it right, but I believe the will is what determines who gets what. If your Mom agrees that you deserve the lion's share, that's a different matter. Outside of that, it's amazing how differently people see their contributions when financial gain is involved.
Okay Gerhardt, I'll play. Who IS the one who usually maintains the social structure of the home?
Comment: #18
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:48 AM
Re: Jane

I am aware of the fact that violence exists equally from either gender, regardless of persuation, especially considering the fact that there are many kinds of violence. But I was answering Chris' comment about wives isolating their husbands from their own mothers, and I was pointing out that isolation is a technique used for control by wife-beaters as well, not just insecure wives. I was not saying anything to the effect of violence being the prerogative of only one gender.

Comment: #19
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:57 AM
Re: Maggie Lawrence

"If your Mom agrees that you deserve the lion's share, that's a different matter."
You may have missed it, but from what I remember of a previous post from another day, that is exactly what is happening. I remember telling her that was well-earning the money.

Comment: #20
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:00 AM
Re: Mike H

That was a great post. You really said all that needed to be said.

aimai
Comment: #21
Posted by: aimai
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:05 AM
Lise: some jurisdictions allow caregivers to apply for the costs of caregiving against the estate. The rationale is that if someone like Irene didn't do it, then the parent would have paid for those services, and likely paid more for them, thus diminishing what was left in the estate.

Basically, you become a creditor of the estate, who takes her share first, and then, once all debts are paid, the rest is split down the middle.
Comment: #22
Posted by: Roxeanne de Luca
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:11 AM
Re: Roxeanne de Luca
I wouldn't know about such specifics - I don't know about them even here. But I do remember that her mother was agreeing that she deserved the lion's share, and not only because of her devotion, but also because of the brother's stinky attitude and behaviour. Otherwise she wouldn't have agreed to change the POA terms.

It's up to her to will her estate as she sees fit anyway, and I'm certain Irene is not caring for her mother because she had an eye on an augmented inheritance - she doesn't come across as the type, it is obvious she truly cares about her mother's welfare.

But I for one would find it poetic justice that the man who was quite willing to pull the plug himself so that the inheritance would come faster, be the one left out holding an empty bag through his own lack of basic human decency.

Comment: #23
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:25 AM
Re: Maggie Lawrence

I don't see it as Irene helping herself to the inheritance. While I'm not thrilled with her implication that women do all the caretaking while the men do nothing (and are managed?), I infer from her post that her mother has agreed in advance to give her a larger portion of the estate .

As for the maintenance of the social structure in homes, I wasn't aware that most families need their social structure maintained. Mine certainly doesn't. My bride and I are equal as parents while the kids don't get equal say in what takes place, although we do keep their interests in mind when making decisions. If a family needs their social structure maintained, well shoot, that's just...let's not say strange. To be nice we'll just call it different.
Comment: #24
Posted by: gerhardt
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:25 AM
"In many cases a new girlfriend or new wife will purposely set about isolating her husband from his family. Sadly, the men are usually oblivious to this tactic and succumb to it. If the LW wants to ensure that her boys remain close to the family once they grow up and marry, then she needs to teach them how to show a little backbone and stand their ground when their wives or girlfriends begin to find fault with their family and then manufacture excuses not to spend time with them."


Ugh. Please. I can't count the number of times I've read and heard mothers complaining that their sons don't call them or send them cards and/or gifts after marriage and, woe is me, my DIL is evil and my baby boy is being held hostage.

News flash, Mom. Your son didn't call you because HE didn't think of it. Unless a guy is locked in the basement or kidnapped by aliens, he's perfectly capable of: A) keeping a calander of important events, and B) picking up the phone and calling Mom. I'm so tired of hearing people blame a wife for a guy's neglect (if it is that) of his original family. It is NOT DIL's job to make certain little baby boy calls Mom.

Maybe moms should raise their sons to help take care of "the social structure", instead of assuming that their wives will do it. Maybe wife doesn't want to be her husband's mommy.

I mean, if a man is a victim willing to be ruled by a woman - perhaps we should look at the woman who raised him.
Comment: #25
Posted by: JMM
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:26 AM
From the day they were born, I hugged, kissed and told my boys how much I loved them. so did their dad. Today at 37 & 39, they say it any time we are on the phone or they are leaving. One son lives in another state and both he, his wife and the girls visit us via video chats and we visit two or three times a year at their request. We are a very huggy, kissy family. Fortunately our younger son found a family just like ours. We are always included in their family activities at Christmas and I usually have at least two play dates with her Mom and ALL of her grandchildren. Our oldest son is a single dad. We have helped him raise his kids who are now teenagers. They all remain close. Funny one of the complaints his former wife had at the custody hearing was, he talks to his parents almost every day. She did not visit or call her small children for weeks at a time. No surprise who won final custody on that issue. If you stay loving and accept the wives no matter what.....things should be ok. Never, Never critize the wife. Upon hearing that one of my grandson's friends mother had remarried and had sent him off to live with his Dad, my older son said........I am so lucky to have the parents I have. Just love them.
Comment: #26
Posted by: Ann
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:30 AM
LW1 - You need to respect Maria's dad. He's in charge now and you're not. Someday you may be a dad to a daughter and you'll want all those disgusting horndogs to respect you as you protect your duaghter. Where are your parents in all this?

LW2 - Okay. You're creeping me out already. Please chill before you really mess up those boys.

Comment: #27
Posted by: Rick
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:41 AM
If you love your family and like to be with them, are kind and generous to them, and keep an open house and an open mind, you will find that your children's spouses flock to you. If you are clannish and cold to outsiders, difficult to please, a whiner, a complainer, a nitpicker: you won't. That seems to be the take home message here. Are we surprised?

There's an anthropological term, however, for the kind of social networking that people do to manage their kin networks: "kin work." In the US, among upper and middle class white women, it was traditionally done by women. In Nepal, where I worked, it wasn't exactly done by women but women had a pivotal role in displaying a household's status and maintaining good relations with other households.

One of the funniest things about reading these letters, which are by and large from Canadian or US citizens, is the default assumption of each person that the way their own family has done things is "normal" and everyone else's way is deviant or undesirable. That's true despite the fact that both Canada and the US are multicultural societies with many different living traditions on everything from marriage to birth to death. And the posters on the board come from many different ethnic, religious, and cultural traditions as well as different classes. All of these things have a bearing on whether you've heard, or experienced, the phrase "A Son's A Son Until He Takes a Wife" or "Snips and Snails..." or anything else. And also whether you hear that phrase as reflecting your reality or an absurd position.

My own experience of family is that it is indeed women who are supposed to remember birthdays, perform holiday rituals, and make phone calls when family members are sick. That doesn't mean the men don't do their share--its just a different share. In addition, in my family, my husband is closer to my family than his, and my sister in law is closer to our family than her own. We are nicer, more fun, more lively, and more loving than our in-law's families and over time both male and female in married people (my husband/my sister in law) gravitated into the family with the stronger family ties. It doesn't have anything to do with sex or sexism but its also the case that it may be interpreted that way by outsiders who are familiar with general trends. That is, from my mother in law's perspective the falling away of her son is proof of the old adage. From my sister-in-law's mother's perspective my sister-in-law's preference for my brother's side is proof that things have changed and that women don't stand by their mothers.

aimai
Comment: #28
Posted by: aimai
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:52 AM
Re: Mike H - Very good post Mike H.
Comment: #29
Posted by: Rick
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:54 AM
Re: gerhardt Run along, Gerhardt. . . your Mom is calling you!
Comment: #30
Posted by: Piranha in Pajamas
Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:01 AM
And people wonder why there's so much animoisty here. It's because of childish behavior like this.

Not that I care, but still.
Comment: #31
Posted by: gerhardt
Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:15 AM
LW 1, If you knew that Marcia was not allowed to date until 16, you should have asked her parent's permission to give her that ticket on her 15th birthday. The Annies are right on with this one. After Marcia's 16th birthday, ask your parents if you can invite Marcia's family over for dinner. Letting her parents get to know your parents and see how you live will go a long way towards making her parents feel better about you. Tell your mother/ father/ guardian that you are fully prepared to do whatever cooking and cleaning is nessescary to facilitate this visit. Shoot, you'll probably get bonus points if you cook.

LW 2, stop it with the enforced gender roles all ready. "Girls always do this," "Boys always do this," is so passe. If you want to have a good relationship with your kids fifteen years for now, stop being so clingy, be active and involved in their lives, make a point of spending individual, quality time with them and let them be their own people. If you teach them the importance of family and strive to have good relationships with them, everything (should) work out. But, in this day and age, gender is no guarantee of being taken care of in your old age.
Comment: #32
Posted by: Shannon
Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:19 AM
i have 3 adult children and had a like relationship with all 3 of them. my son lives the closest and we have a lot of times together and talk on the phone everyday for quite a long time. we discuss many subjects. yes, he is married and has children. my 2 girls live in 2 different parts of the country and i don't have anywhere close to that relationship with either of them. i am just happy to have my son feel we can be 'friends' and wish that everyone had a son like mine-the world would be a much better place!
Comment: #33
Posted by: Suzie
Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:35 AM
A good son is usually a good husband and a good father. He was a devoted son to his mother (now deceased). My beloved MIL was a very wise woman, she alwasys said that she will always side with me since her son son will always be her son, but if she lost me she may lose her grandchildren. When we got married, she won a daughter and I got a mother. We both won. Now that my daughters are married to "good sons", I try to follow on my MIL footsteps. I love my new sons, they love me and they all get to spend time with both families. On the other hand, my mother can't stand my husband, he stole her little girl, and we have been married for 30 years!
Comment: #34
Posted by: Vanessa
Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:36 AM
"Since women tend to maintain the social structure of the home, their family preferences win out..." I'm sort of amazed by the posters who have said they either had never heard of the whole "A son's a son until he takes a wife..." saying and gave the Annies a hard time for suggesting that (in our culture -- definitely not true for most Asian cultures) women tend to be the ones who take care of the family/social infrastructure in a home. Yes, this is a big, whopping generalization. And yes, just as is the case with most big, whopping generalizations, you're ALWAYS going to be able to find exceptions to the generalization. But guess what -- most big, whopping generalizations BECOME big, whopping generalizations because they're generally true.

For those of you who questioned this, ask yourselves who typically does the planning, scheduling, prep and cooking for Thanksgiving, Christmas, other family events? If you're male, and you're honest, you're going to admit that nine times out of ten, it's your mother and/or your wife and/or your sister and/or SIL. Again, are there exceptions to this? Of course there are. But I am confident that if I stopped 100 men at random to ask when was the last time they served as the primary planner/scheduler/cook for Thanksgiving, Christmas or other family events, the VAST majority of them are going to say they have rare or NEVER done that. And for the few exceptions I'd get? I'm confident that the majority of those exceptions are going to be cases where mom/wife/sister don't exist (dead, divorced, never existed, etc.). With Mother's Day coming up, that MIGHT just skew the numbers a bit -- but even then, probably not so much.

I believe there have been studies -- both statistical and behavioral/psychological -- that also bear up this generality -- but I cannot cite any of them off hand. I can only swear that it seems like I learned that in my college psych courses. And when you think about it, it makes sense. If traditionally it used to be that men were the breadwinners and women were the caretakers, whose job do you suppose it was to plan/maintain the family's social calendar? Even though plenty of women work outside of the home now and frequently make an equal contribution to the breadwinning aspect of a family, it's taking some time for the side of the equation -- the care-taking side -- to catch up. There are lots of different reasons this may be the case. But these dynamics are changing -- it just takes time.

So, let's not beat the messenger who bears these generalities. If we don't like them, let's try to work make them true less often. With apologies to the millions of men out there who are already doing their fair share (or more than their fair share), more men need to be ready to step up to the caregiver plate. Women need to encourage them to do this and LET them do this (sometimes we women are our own worst enemies -- not believing that it will get done or get done well enough if we leave it to the men, we just take over the task).

All of that philosophical stuff aside, the best advice that has been given to the LW is that she needs to stop worrying about this. The more tightly she tries to grasp onto her boys, the more they're going to want to pull away. The more she sees their future wives (and their families) as the enemy competing for her sons' love and attention -- the more likely she is to establish combative relationships with them. If she's already started obsessing about this when they are 6 and 9, I can't even imagine what's going to be like when they are 16 and 19, 26 and 29, 36 and 39, etc. Wow -- would I not want to be this woman's DIL!
Comment: #35
Posted by: Lisa
Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:45 AM
Re: Lisa

"If you're male, and you're honest, you're going to admit that nine times out of ten, it's your mother and/or your wife and/or your sister and/or SIL."

First of all, I do 99.9% of the cooking, and of our friends they guys do at least half the cooking in their houses as well, so I wouldn't say that's atypical. But you're considering who plans holiday gatherings and does the cooking as "maintaining the social structure of a family"? That's a stretch.

You state that there are historical bases for the generalization that women maintain the family social structure. That may very well have been the case long ago when women almost always stayed home to tend to household chores while men worked all day and returned home exhausted. But I think both men and women in advanced civilizations evolved beyond that long ago. I just don't see, as Lise thinks, that women are more emotionally mature than men. And I don't see, as Lisa thinks, that women hold households together and maintain the family social structure.

It's not a contest, but I find it offensive when someone thumps their chest proclaiming that members of their sex are dominant in some social aspect where it's clearly not true.
Comment: #36
Posted by: gerhardt
Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:07 AM
LW1: I have no additional advice.

LW2: I think this is a bunch of BS. People make their own decisions to be in contact with their families. Yes - I have heard of spouses being evil and keeping the other away from their family....but that is a choice being made.

My brother does not have much contact with our mom. It has nothing to do with his past spouses or current SO - it has to do with how he feels about Mom and what she did to us. My brother also goes in spurts with talking to our Dad....again, his choice.

My hubby and I moved to his home town because of his family. Although we lived 3-4 miles away, I was the one who kept in more contact....especially in the last 2-3 years. He didn't have any animosity with his family, he just couldn't handle his mom's health situation.

So - family contact is a personal decision. It can be influenced by others and events....but it is still a personal decision.
Comment: #37
Posted by: ppclps
Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:15 AM
@Maggie, my mother made the decision because she was concerned about the amount of work I was putting into taking care of her. I brought her home for two years before placing her in a nursing home because I couldn't be sure of how much "rehab" she was going to get. I wanted her to recover as much as possible. My brother visited her in the hospital to ask about having her house and how much money she had in the bank.

I go the nursing home three times a week. I see so many elderly folks just sitting there, never getting a visitor. And yet, I'm sure these people have assets that some younger family member is going to want when they die. It's irritating also because there is usually ONE sibling who does the lion's share of the work, and yet when the elderly person dies, you can almost always count on ALL of the siblings showing up, wanting their share. I've seen a lot of this, over and over again. I have to be honest and say that in my circle of friends, it's split 50-50 between men and women being the caregivers.

And Lisa, your ideas about the Christmas dinners, etc., doesn't really hold water in my circles either. I must be unusual, but I swear I've got tons of friends where the man is the one who does all the cooking, for holidays and otherwise. But I'm surrounded by career women, so that might be why.

You know what I would like? I would like it if there was a law that stated that the primary caregiver could "charge" an estate for the caregiving work they'd done for the deceased. Let's say that someone like me could "charge" the estate 100,000 dollars for all the caregiving I did, and then, after the 100,000 is deducted, then the estate can be divided among the inheritors.

I'm making this suggestion for two reasons: caregiver burn out is REAL and I think that even if a financial incentive is the only reason a family member is visiting an elderly relative, it's better than nothing. Those sad elderly people in the nursing home I see would probably be quite happy to get visitors, never mind the reason. I think in a lot of families, if there was a financial incentive for HELPING an elderly person, instead of ignoring them, that would work out well for everyone. That way, all the siblings might be more helpful and pattern of there being only one "responsible one" might occur less often.

I have a woman friend who was up in arms when her father died. She and her sisters would regularly phone the veteran's hospital where he was for long term care--like once every six months--and they were incensed when their brother, who had been visiting their father regularly, inherited everything. It's stupid and immature. My friend and her sisters only cared enough about their father to check to see if he was alive or dead. The brother was doing the visiting, making sure the father had everything he needed, etc.

I'm sorry, but even if money is the only bait that works, spreading the responsibility for eldercare is a better solution than what I'm seeing as "the norm" now. One kid out of 4 or 5 doing all the work.
Comment: #38
Posted by: irene
Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:16 AM
LW1- I think you should stop and decide if this is a situation you really want to be tied to through dating the daughter. Whether it is due to cultural differences or not, the father is really strict. You will have to deal with the father becoming insulted or upset over random things that occur in the relationship with his daughter. Plus, it seems your future girlfriend will become offended if you try to go to parties or hangout with people besides her. Do you really want to spend your young years in such a possessive environment? Just make sure this isn't something you will look back and regret.

If it is worth it to you, then do as others have suggested and not push to father's rules. Wait until she is 16 to ask the father if you can take her out.

LW2- Don't let it worry you. Whether they are close or not is more of a personality thing. There is no telling what the future holds and remind anyone who quotes the adage to you about this fact.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Well, the relationship with my family didn't even survive to the court date. My father called up my husband last night demanding he stop hanging out with the ex or he would not be allowed in my father's house ever again. My husband, of course, did not appreciate this and they fought over the phone. In my parents and sister's eyes, we are choosing the ex over them despite everything they've done for us. I can understand why they feel this way. I tried to explain to them this is not the case and it's not that we agree with the ex. We can have friends and disagree with the things they do. However my family is insisting we're choosing the ex over them when they are the only ones asking us to make a choice. My father then called me up this morning and threatened to remove me from the will, and other stuff I cannot remember because it upset me so much, if I do not ban the ex from my house. I told my father I do not care about the money... which is the truth. I could care less if I never see a red penny of inheritance. I hate listening to people squabble over inheritance money when it seems they are forgetting a person is dead for them to have this money.

Anyways, I ended up telling my father 'sorry, I cannot go over to your house either then'. He got really ticked that I "played that card" as he put it. I don't really understand what he even means by this. Afterall, how can I go to a place my husband is not allowed to go to. I'm not sure if it would bother my husband or not, but it just does not sit right with my heart. After my father was done with his peace, I thanked him for everything he had done for us and said I love him, then told him goodbye (in an 'I'm hanging up sense'). I'm hoping we can still communicate over the phone over the years... In other words, I'm hoping they will make it possible for me to speak on the phone with them, but I will naturally not be so willing to talk over the phone if all they want to do is chew me out. I guess I now get how divorces literally tear families apart. I do believe this is the most painful thing I've ever been through. I will certainly die early from this. I hope they get over this in time so things can go back to the way it was, but I somehow doubt this will ever happen. But I will always love them.

I'm now contemplating whether or not to even attend the court date. I told them I would before this happened, and I do believe I should stay true to my word. It's not like I made a promise, but people shouldn't have to promise every little thing. But I don't really want to listen to this anymore. I suppose I'll go to it...

Oh, and no, we do not have any children yet. We'll decide what to do once that bridge is crossed.
Comment: #39
Posted by: Maria
Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:34 AM
On the gender labor division debate:

I, too, must be part of the Twilight Zone. While my ex-husband was a louse, his family was great and we spent at least part of each holiday with them. His dad always did the meat dishes while his mom did the fudge, cakes, deviled eggs, etc.

Not long ago, when I was very ill and my SO was doing all the bacon bringing as well as the home making, I discovered that my SO is actually much better at many of the household duties than I am. It's easier, I think, for him to see the big picture, whereas I find myself caught up in the minutia.
Comment: #40
Posted by: dolly
Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:43 AM
My husband talks to his parents several times a day. I willingly and happily moved two streets over from my in-laws. Due to the fact we had a psycho neighbor, we would have stayed in that house. My ideal plan is to buy a duplex and have my in-laws live next door to us. My parents hate talking on the phone and avoid it. I would call them everyday if they wanted to hear from me everyday. I'm not a whiner or a complainer, when they tell me about the things they do for my siblings, I tell them they are wonderful people. And it's not that my parents don't love me, they just don't enjoy talking on the phone for more than five minutes.

We have no idea who is going to go first. Life is so uncertain. But my MIL said she never wants to go to a nursing home. I have told her I want to have her with us, me and her son. She said "that's okay. just take me out into the middle of the nowhere and leave me. Then don't call the authorities for two days." She can be nuts, but she's fun and I love her no matter what.

The other poster are right, the more love and acceptance a child receives, the less likely they are to walk away. It's not about money, it's about sharing wisdom, confidence and experiences that is most important.
Comment: #41
Posted by: Chelle
Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:57 AM
Re: Gerhardt and Lise,

I have to admit my husband maintains the social structure in our household. He did NOT marry me for my household abilities, lol! Since I am looking for work right now, I've been making a conscious effort to do more cleaning than him, but when I am working this is definitely not the case. When I am working, he probably does over half of the cleaning. He decorates the house to his liking too, but I do the cooking. I decide where we go during the holidays, but there is a good reason for this. It is because his family never calls him (and vice versa) with the time to go over there, and my family always called me with what time the thanksgiving/christmas events would be... although this year it seems we won't be attending these events at this rate. If my husband and his side of the family communicated these events to one another, I would consider them at the holidays more.

I think the typical social structure is being bred out of the newer generations. I know lots of girls who do all of the cleaning/ cooking, but I know just as many guys who do all the cleaning/ cooking in the family too. Most of the couples I know split it rather evenly. In my school, there was no home ec class. I had to figure out how to do all the stuff (to my husband's dismay) on my own cause mother was not home (at work) to teach me growing up. It's like this with a lot of girls my age, so I suppose that is one of the reasons in my generation why guys typically help out a lot. I think another main reason is this: In the area where I live, girls typically have their first child by age twenty. This gives them a large leverage to demand the guys help out. I have a relative my age who does almost all the cleaning despite his wife being a stay at home mother. This sort of thing is not uncommon where I live. Perhaps it varies by community.
Comment: #42
Posted by: Maria
Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:57 AM
@Roxanne, sorry didn't see your post dealing with caregivers and charging an estate.
Comment: #43
Posted by: irene
Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:15 AM
@Roxanne, sorry I missed your post about caregivers charging an estate. I'm not sure what the laws are in Canada regarding this, but I don't think there is provision for this currently.
Comment: #44
Posted by: irene
Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:32 AM
Re: Maria- I'm sorry you're going through this. Your family should have a lot more compassion for you .
Comment: #45
Posted by:
Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:46 AM
Re: Maria

Would I be out of line if I suggested that you and your husband start going to therapy to deal with your unresolved issues with your own family in re the molestation and their abusive/controlling behavior? Your sister's situation is your sister's situation. She made her bed and now she has to lie in it. If your parents were a little more mature they would realize that you don't have to "be there" at the court case, or "be there" for your sister to remain a good sister and daughter and to be respected in your parents household as an adult. But they aren't. You wrote to us asking us what you and your husband should do to please or placate your sister and your parents. But the situation is escalating way past that. I think it sounds like its high time that you and your husband began to work, as a team, on your issues with your family. Your parents are putting you last, are pushing you around, are interfereing in your marriage and are putting you in an impossible position. It sounds like you are handling it well but its really stressful. You could use some professional help, or just a professional extra ear for listening or shoulder to cry on. Your relationship with your parents and sister took a long time to develop and it will take a long time to unwind its more problematic parts. I think you should start trying to work on making things better for you and your husband rather than worrying all the time about how to please crazy people.

aimai
Comment: #46
Posted by: aimai
Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:00 AM
Re: gerhardt

Look, Gerhardt, if you are offended by someone ignoring the actual gist of your comments and just lobbing a bomb and walking off, or just insulting and posting, well--that was really the model for all your posts until very recently. You said yourself that you simply logged on while busy with travel and trolled to insult people. I always assumed, as well, that you were the one posting the fake "amai" posts since you consistently attacked me and misspelled my name. In other words until today you've basically engaged only in this kind of hostile, pointless, attack.

This thread is the first time I've seen you actually engage, more or less respectfully, and offer up your own experiences (however limited) as some kind of backup to your opinions. That's great and I look forward to hearing more about your life, your friends, your cooking, and all the other things that make Gerhardt's opinion more than just insulting other posters and running. Maybe if you sincerely post your opinions more frequently other people won't troll you.

aimai
Comment: #47
Posted by: aimai
Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:06 AM
LW1: I agree with Annies' advice, but I'm also wondering if your appearance might be prejudicing your cause with her father. If your pants are hanging below your butt, your haircut is weird, and you have tattoos or piercings, you need to clean up. If I'm right about your appearance, you might need to choose between dressing "cool" and seeing Maria.
Comment: #48
Posted by: bfrg1513
Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:27 AM
Re Aimai,

No, not out of line at all. I cannot afford therapy though because my husband is the only one with a job right now. I have not attended church in a long time cause I cannot find one I like. I suppose I can start looking again and then once I'm a member, I can talk to the priest/ pastor (depending on denomination) there. My husband won't be willing to attend though cause he dislikes organized religion (there's a good reason family related I won't go into), but I know he'll listen to and support me. It would be a good idea for dealing with my family... though I don't think I could talk to the person about my cousin. I can type all day long about it, but I just cannot talk face to face with people about it. My parents never sent me to counseling for it, so I got use to not having to talk to others face to face about that, and my husband is one of the few people I've told in person. I actually suppressed the memories for a few years after it happened cause I could not deal with looking at his face. At any rate, it's a good suggestion which for some reason never crossed my mind. I'll consider talking to a pastor/priest.
Comment: #49
Posted by: Maria
Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:40 AM
From all the anecdotes I've heard and read about evil mothers-in-law, I think we could revise that saying to the following: "A son is a son till he gets a life; his wife take the blame for the rest of her life." I have seen so, so, so many posts and anecdotes about women whose in-laws ignore their kids, make unreasonable demands, treat the DIL like crap, make obvious favorites of their daughters' children, etc. I don't know why it is that so many families treat their sons' families so differently, but it's a very common dynamic. Sure, it might be because the DIL is a bitch or trying to control the son, but I've seen a ton of posts from DILs whose ILs just can't be bothered even when they spend tons of time and attention on their other grandkids. I can't imagine that it's all just because of the DIL.
Comment: #50
Posted by: limniade
Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:42 AM
Re: Maria

I know that there are some free online and phone groups out there--some posters posted some links in the last few weeks right here on the Annie's blog. If anyone can remember the links perhaps they could repost them for you? Just calling up and speaking to a friendly person might help you break the logjam. Your husband sounds like a really nice guy but without two jobs, two health insurance plans that cover therapy, and/or a really great, long term relationship with a pastor I see that you will have a very hard time finding the therapeutic support you need. Perhaps there's a meetup inyour area or a survivors of abuse group you could join that would be free? I "know" some women from the internet who have gone through a whole lot of stuff and the one thing they all express is the relief they feel after finally finding a group of friendly people with whom they can share their experiences. Don't give up--look around, look for a hotline and give them a call. They will know what free services or groups are available in your area.

best wishes
aimai
Comment: #51
Posted by: aimai
Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:53 AM
Re: JMM

<<News flash, Mom. Your son didn't call you because HE didn't think of it. Unless a guy is locked in the basement or kidnapped by aliens, he's perfectly capable of: A) keeping a calander of important events, and B) picking up the phone and calling Mom. I'm so tired of hearing people blame a wife for a guy's neglect (if it is that) of his original family. It is NOT DIL's job to make certain little baby boy calls Mom>>

Amen! All my mother-in-law ever does is accuse me of keeping her son away from her. I have never, ever told my husband he wasn't allowed to call his mother or visit her and I've never tried to stop him. I also never "punished" him in any way when he did. He doesn't call or visit often because HE doesn't want to! She's loud and overbearing and he hates that. He calls and visits his father and brother all the time because HE WANTS to! It's not my job to make him call her, make him get her a birthday card, make him visit her on Mother's Day. He's a big boy and he can do that by himself. He doesn't make me do that stuff with my mother and nor would I expect him to.

Comment: #52
Posted by: Little Cookie
Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:11 PM
LW1: "Lovesick teen" doesn't have to date Maria in order to see her outside of school. There are other options. He can visit her at her home to study, play games, have fun on the internet, if she has a computer, or just to have snacks and talk. Likewise she can visit at his home, with parents present, if her father agrees. If there are younger siblings in either family, they can take the younger ones to the park, or other entertainment venues in the neighborhood, if parents agree. Is there an after-school program at the school, that would allow them to participate in activities together? Could the two organize a group activity involving their friends, with parents helping out? The parents could get involved by planning group outings like hiking, boating, or other fun activities. This would have the added bonus of allowing the father to see more of "Lovesick teen", and get to know him better in an informal setting, before he begins dating Maria. "No dating" doesn't have to mean confining time spent together to school hours.
Comment: #53
Posted by: Karina Reid
Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:16 PM
Regarding some of the responses to LW1: I don't know if it's a case of different cultures (as in, Middle Eastern vs. Western). It could be the father is rather conservative and wants to be sure, as Annie points out, his daughter is safe and in the company of someone who will respect her -- i.e., keep her a virgin until her marriage, which is definitely understandable and must be respected. He may be leery, thinking that no matter LW1's persona -- a good, all-American type or someone, well, less savory -- he's got some hidden agenda for sex until he knows for sure; and there is always the chance the father had some personal experience (direct or not) with one of those "good boy" types who, after winning her parents' trust, raped and killed his girlfriend on date night. Yes, it is too bad that sometimes it is "guilty until proven innocent," but it's best for the boy to back off for now. If she's worth it when she turns 16, then you'll know. And I think in time, the respect between father and potential suitor will be regained.
Comment: #54
Posted by: Bobaloo
Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:17 PM
Any relationship you have with your children--sons or daughters--is yours to create and nuture. There is not an either nor or.
I have 3 wonderful grown sons. Watching them this last week with the passing of their grandfather and getting through all the funeral days--seeing their compassion and understanding they have for others--I know they were taught well. When many of my mother's friends would tell me I had nice young men for sons, I knew what they meant. My comment always is--and I am very proud of them.
As children grow up, they need parents, not you as a friend. Friendship with your children come once they are grown and understand the equality of friendships among adults. By this time your guidance, love, nuturing, understanding, along with set guidlines, rules, obligations and responsibilites are well set in stone. Knowing the difference from what you want to do versus what you need to do and what what is the right way to be a good steward to and of your family, the community and rest of the world will set the tone.
So now I watch my son with children set out the same 'requirements of life' in front of his daughters. We all have things we wish we could change or do different. Sometimes that came along with bad decisions--some you can heal, some you can't. Teaching our children they have these choices starts early. My kids knew that actions = reactions and behaviors = consequences. Communication was open. Good or bad. It was there.
So whether it was (at 6'4" and 29) sitting on the floor next to the hospital bed, stroking grandpa's arm and running your fingers through his hair--or the same person carrying his grandpa's casket out of the church--I knew my children were the best I could ever ask for.
I will be reading the blog postings, but my heart is not in the joining in state. My thought are with you all.
Many thanks and gentle hugs. Joyce
Comment: #55
Posted by: Joyce/MN
Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:42 PM
Re: Maria
You need not belong to a congregation to talk to a pastor or priest. Their work in listening is the same to them. No admitance fees required--like God's love. He sent his Son to pay the price of our sin. So the Glory of the Lord is free to all who believe.
Comment: #56
Posted by: Joyce/MN
Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:45 PM
Re. LW1 - I think I understand where Maria's father is coming from. Since LW1 knew that Maria was not allowed to date until she was 16 and bought the dance ticket anyway - he was disrespecting the father's rules as if they didn't count or as if a dance was not the same as a date. Just based on what is written I get the feeling that if LW1 had approached Maria's father first and said something along the lines of, "I know that Maria isn't allowed to date yet, and I respect that. But, I was hoping you would make an exception just this once as I would like to go to a dance and I don't want to go without Maria...." The father would have been impressed, and probably would have said yes.

LW1 needs to acknowledge the mistake he made in handling the dance if he wants to garner respect from Maria's father.

LW2 - I can empathize with the LW, I have had this same thought in passing regarding my own young sons. But lots of people have given great advice; I particularly like Aimai's comment. I would just add that the most important thing the LW has to do is to learn to keep her opinions to herself. No matter how much she thinks she needs to mother her adult child - Don't. When her son picks a wife, be kind to her. Once you are close to her, don't assume you can say whatever you want and still maintain that close relationship. NEVER mention her weight, or appearance, or her parenting. Never just step in and take over. Give your adult son and DIL the same dignities you would give a close friend. If I went to my best friend's home and saw that it was a mess, I wouldn't dare just start cleaning. I would say, "It seems that you have a lot on your plate, is there anything I can do to help you out?" And then I would do whatever it is she asked or if she said, "no thanks", I would back off. Also, befriend the mother of your DIL. If your families can all happily meld, it would be ideal for everyone. I honestly believe that in some cases, women can be reluctant to draw close to their MIL out of loyalty to the relationship they have with their mothers. If you are friends (or at least friendly) with her mother, she is more likely to want to include you in her life as well.

I think the closest families I know tend to be parents who respect boundaries and have the ability to understand that once the child is an adult, their job is over - I will always be my sons' mother - but at some point I will have to stop "mothering" them if I want them to include me in their adult lives.

@Joannakathryn - That was pretty funny!

@gerhardt - Good posts. I love the way you are engaging in a positive way. Your opinions add value to the discussion.

@Irene - I don't get the impression that you take care of your mother to earn a larger share of the inheritance. I have a close friend whose situation is similar to your own. Her brother married and decided to re-write his childhood. He decided that his mother was horrible and his sister (who is ten years his senior and felt like he was as much her own child as her brother) did absolutely nothing for him. After years of reaching out to him and him repeated failure to respond; their mother who is quite affluent, removed him from the will. My friend, who attends to her mother's medical needs, maintains her own business, and run her mother's businesses while maintaining a full-time job will inherit everything.

Sharnée
Comment: #57
Posted by: sharnee
Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:15 PM
Re: Aimai

I don't think I would feel comfy talking to a survivor's abuse group or hotline for abuse, cause I was just abused by my cousin. The abuse didn't happen over years, just several months... a year tops. Those women went through longterm abuse and a lot of them actual rape. It just wouldn' feel right to call a hotline or join a support group when my situation isn't like that. I cannot compare to the trauma and heart ache those women went through. But thank you for the suggestion.

Re: Joyce,

That is good to know. I'll keep that in mind thank you so much.
Comment: #58
Posted by: Maria
Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:18 PM
LW2's issue strikes close to home for me because my LOML's mother is exactly what she doesn't want to be. Divorced while the children were young, she threw herself into raising her son and daughter, and in fact gave them too much. Now her children are adults, and she is not letting go. My bf's mother makes it no secret that she does not particularly like me; moreover, she views me as competition and thinks I'm "taking her baby away." She has no friends, is estranged from her extended family, and her life revolves around her adult children. Basically every time I see her she is angry- my bf is late meeting her, did not spend as much time as she thought he would, is taking ME out somewhere instead of her, etc etc. She once shouted at him in front of me because we were discussing where we would go for dinner in front of her- she said we were being rude because we were discussing it without inviting her.
Anyways, my point is, LW2, you don't raise your children to keep them. As others have said, if you respect their space and privacy as they grow older, and treat their girlfriends and wives respectfully, you will see returns on that. If you continue to worry about "losing them" you'll find yourself disliking their friends and girlfriends, getting angry when they go out- and they'll only want to get away from you more. My bf is currently financially dependent on his mother until he finds work- but he intends on speaking to her very little once he is independent again.
Comment: #59
Posted by: Jers
Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:08 PM
I am a 30 yr old female who is involved with a 27yr old man. We have been together or I should say involved with each other for a year now, I have to wonderful children ages 4 and 9 that has taken a very well liking to him due to the fact their real father doesnt want to be in their lives. I am very pleased by this because now my daughter doesnt have to feel like their is no male role model in her life. But since it has been a yr we have been seeing each other I finally asked him if we could take our relationship further and become boyfriend and girlfriend,when I suggested he told me that he has a fear of commitment and that he also doesnt want to live here anymore and move outta town for a better job. I feel like why wait a yr to be so involved with me and my kids and do everything with us to just up and move away,He says he loves me and the kids but i feel like Im a fool for still messing with him for this long. I need help as to what to do,should I leave him alone now and not wait for him to leave and move outta town,which he does have a job offer already 7hrs away, or should I do diffrently....Please help me before my heart gets broken too bad.
Comment: #60
Posted by: Kisha
Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:31 PM
I can't believe I am the first to ask: Where is Maria in all of this? Shouldnt SHE have been the one to go to dad and say, "I know you said not 'till next year, but can I go to this dance?". Isn't it HER job to respect or negotiate the household rules of the house she live in?
Maria's father, AND all the posters on this board, are treating Maria as a baby or chattel, to be negotiated, respected, honored, whatever, but not to play a role in that. She is an object for the father and boyfriend to negotiate.
And to all who say, lw, you broke dad's rules, you asked for it, I say, gimme a break. He did not sneak into her bedroom window. He behaved above board and openly. It was up to Maria to say, "thanks but I can't go". And end the drama there.
Comment: #61
Posted by: Jpp
Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:37 PM
Hi guys, LW2 here. Thanks for the encouragement and kind words. The day I wrote that letter was a day where I read other advice columns about how some son's move away and the mother never sees them again. Then I read the letter about "grandpas birthday", and I guess I just got emotional. However, I have also seen first hand a woman who took our friend away and we haven't seen or heard from him again (and neither has his family) in 16 years. But, as some posters have said, he didn't have a spine to beging with, so I have to make sure my kids have a strong one themselves and have their own minds. In spite of what some posters have surmised, I'm not clinging to my children and planning attacks on future girlfriends (and the way the ladies love them, even at this age, they'll get a LOT) Actually, I'm a loving, happy, and non judgemental person (comes in handy with my job as a probation officer) and have seen all walks of life. I'm far from clingy, just concerned. I'm looking foward to having daughter in laws, and have a great role model on how to be one, which is my own mother in law. Mike H, I appreciate your words, coming from a man. Thanks everyone, you made me feel a lot better.
Comment: #62
Posted by: happymom
Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:54 PM
Mike H - Great post. You said everything I would have.

JMM - Exactly, thank you!

limniade - LOL, no kidding. Love it. My MIL's so crazy and mean if they named a perfume after her it would be Cuckoo Chienne No. 1.
Comment: #63
Posted by: PS
Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:56 PM
Re: happymom

I think you'll do fine... it's all about the kind of Mom you are today and it sounds like you have your sights set in the right direction. It's such a shame your mother and various others said what they did to you when you were pregnant, IMHO that's really sad and they had no business making such depressing comments.
Comment: #64
Posted by: PS
Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:00 PM
Re: Joyce

I'm so glad to "see" you here, even if only for a moment. I've missed your wise words and I wanted to know how the funeral and memorial went. I'm so glad you had the strong support of your three sons, and that they had so much time with their grandfather while he was young and strong, as well as time with him in the hospital. Those are precious memories, for them and for you. Wish I could have attended the service, your father sounds like a wonderful man and I would have been uplifted to hear some memories of his life.

best
aimai
Comment: #65
Posted by: aimai
Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:28 PM
Re: Kisha

DTMFA. Also, get yourelf a copy of "he's just not that into you." Basically, if a man or a woman wants to be with you they will move heaven and earth to do it. If they don't, nothing is too small to break up the relationship. He had to take a new job 7 hours away? If he wanted to be with you--really be with you as a husband (and you are way past the bf/gf stage since you have young children) he'd make it work. Fathers and husbands have fought hard to support their families from much farther away than 7 hours. Value yourself a little more highly. Don't get involved with someone who isn't looking for the same things you are--and don't introduce anyone to your children again until you know exactly what the relationship is going to be long term. You need to model for your children the kind of life you expect them to lead and the kind of respect you expect them to have for themselves in a relationship. I've got nothing against temporary relationships for sex if that is what you, Kisha, want. But its clear that you want something different, and your kids need something different. So stop confusing short term relationships for long term ones. A guy who loves you loves the whole package--kids included--he doesn't need a trial period or a rent-a-girlfriend period to figure it out. No guy is preferable, in my opinion, to a temporary one who poses as indecisive when what he really means is "I'm a loner who is willing to be with you on my terms."

aimai

aimai
Comment: #66
Posted by: aimai
Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:38 PM
L2: I am definitely an exception to this rule. I grew up in a somewhat dysfunctional home where my mom wasn't always around and her occasional involvement meant yelling or stressing out during a confrontation. When I met my mother's husband, she was a breath of fresh air. She has always been there for me with a kind ear and a gentle heart. When we got married, my mother-in-law was there for all the special moments (finding my dress, cake testing, choosing flowers) while my mom was either too busy or uninterested. Now, my husband and I are expecting and I find myself calling my mother-in-law for advice and even wanting her in the delivery room because she comforts me so well. I only hope I can be half the mother my mother-in-law is. If I can do that, I can be a great mother. I guess my point is to just love your children and you children's wives the best you know how. Respect and be there for both your sons and their wives and everything will work out. You'll never be your daughter-in-law's mother, but you can be a great friend and mother-in-law.
Comment: #67
Posted by: SO
Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:38 PM
It's interesting to me that everyone who's trying to disprove the "women tend to oversee a household's social calendar" is focusing on the day to day household management, cooking, cleaning, etc.

What comes to mind for me with social calendar tends to be include a lot of stuff like: arranging for the annual family photo to go in the Christmas cards, writing the Christmas newsletter, addressing the Christmas cards, buying birthday cards and sending them to far-flung relatives, sending the care packages to young relatives at college, writing letters to the kids at camp, arranging playdates for very young children, buying birthday presents for the kids whose parties your kids are invited to, obtaining hostess gifts when you're invited to dinner, handling the invitations, decor and cake for your own kids' b-day parties, writing the thank you notes for a dinner out, buying/sending anniversary cards for parents and in-laws, buying the presents (birthday, graduation, confirmation, wedding) presents for siblings & nieces and nephews and making the arrangements needed to go to those celebrations (which can involve arranging hotel reservations, pet care, writing absence excuse notices for school, etc. I've got three kids, the youngest in high school, and never once have I seen a Dad take responsibility for teacher gift, coach gift or organizing treats at rec league teams.

I get that there are a lot of guys who do this. On the other hand...my husband and I early on agreed we'd each take responsibility for presents/cards for our respective family members...my family got cards and presents. His family got nada -- although they sent US stuff. Adding insult to injury...they thought *I* was the lazy/uncaring one neglecting those duties!

I think email/Facebook/digital images make the social contact easier these days for guys. I get that more guys are comfortable cooking now -- the Food Network and other factors have made that more socially acceptable. But I also think fewer of them are as inclined to send the cards or "thinking of you" notes or "thank you for the lovely evening" notes than women are -- I think women do tend to feel more responsibility for the finer points of relationship maintenance (and by that, I mean ALL relationships, not just romantic ones) than men do.

Add into that a tradition of men socialized to be competitive and independent and not showing emotions and yeah...I can see where that "son's a son until he takes him a wife" comes from. Particularly if the son came from a family with a Dad who didn't have a close relationship with HIS parents and sibs.
Comment: #68
Posted by: hedgehog
Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:46 PM
Re: aimai
Hello, My father wished for cremation, my mother needed a casket/body for a funeral. So we pleased both and the cremation would follow the funeral. I don't think my father fathomed how many people, young, old, children would come to say their goodbyes. They needed to see him. He looked wonderful. Cowboy hat by his head, worn cowboy boots on the floor. Those who had been in constant touch thought he looked as he should. A well worn cowboy about to start his final trail ride. Western suit decked out. The photo we chose, of course, was in full western dress. No one had really seen him much ever without his hat. So the funeral director called me to ask HOW DID HE PART HIS HAIR? Well, no photos in my files of recent years gave any clues so we went with which was the path of least resistance. My twin (19 yr old) nieces sang WILL YOU REMEMBER ME?, the great grand children sang JESUS LOVES ME and another friend did AMAZING GRACE. Congregation did ON EAGLES WINGS. Of course, all these bring tears BUT the real tear jerker was a CD of the JUDDS singing GRANDPA. We passed the tissues all over the pews, the guys weeping as much as the gals. The local VFW & Legion Color Guards were all present for the military rites of the service just outside the church doors afterwards. 21 gun salute. Right on small town, main street, USA. Could have gotten a few ducks flying by and my dad would have roared about that! They don't shoot blanks so their aim has to be good. The grandsons carried their grandpa's coffin down the street to the hearse which was waiting.
Lots of food, flowers, friendships, laughter in memories and of course, tears. A family of more than 50 years sent crocuses. A standing joke to see who could report the first find in the spring. But the mom always made the best brown bread--and I asked where that was--. A rancher family next door sent a spray with a cowboy cross in it. A cowboy's belt is very ornate and so this was the leather of the belt, the buckle, etc in a cross, all meant to hang on the wall afterwards. The reviewal was a time of rememberance and laughter. Sometimes inside jokes. My father and I had checked the SD skies for the iffy bad weather before going to bed one night. Tonadoes tend to pop up occ. Anyway their town also has a fire siren too, just a matter of how many minutes it blows. They live 1 mile out so could still hear it. I remember counting to 60, then jumping out of bed yelling--slipped my crocs on, ran out in tshirt as dad ran behind me in his BVD undies and cowboy boots. We would have looked rather stupid to someone else at 3 in the am, but the sky was clear and full of stars. And we just looked at each other. FIRE rather than tornado.
I am smiling as I write this. Crying has come too easy the last week and even though the tears are for cleansing MY soul, I should have stock in Kleenex.
You always get those who are the sour grapes in any occasion and I need to push past those people as to stay there is not me. Forgive so I can move on.
Bidding a fond goodnight. Joyce
Comment: #69
Posted by: Joyce/MN
Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:42 PM
Re: JMM

Ooooh, right on target, hee hee hee hee hee hee.

Comment: #70
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:52 PM
Happymom/LW2: that you are close to your MIL is a great thing. There's the saying that men often marry their mothers, and your sons will subconsciously think that having a close relationship with the guy's parents is a very normal and healthy thing for a woman to do.

---

Irene: same advice to you that I would give to an American: talk to a lawyer. Even though your mother said that she would divide the estate in a certain way, it wouldn't be bad to have a half-hour chat with an attorney to discuss your legal rights under the law in your jurisdiction. More importantly, he or she can also discuss the ways in which you can preserve and gather evidence (receipts, doctor's analyses of her condition, I have no idea). That way, if the will is challenged, or if things are not split the way you were lead to believe, you will have all of your ducks in a row. (FYI: at least in America, that can *discourage* litigation, because the advice given to the potential litigant is, "You're going to lose.")

Usual disclaimer: I am NOT saying that Irene is in this for the money or to make a quick buck, or that anyone who is a caregiver to a relative is gold-digging or whatever. I'm just saying that there's a difference for compensation for time, stress, and yes, money spent, and getting an undeserved windfall. That you are not "in it for the money" doesn't mean that you should fall on your sword to prove it.
Comment: #71
Posted by: Roxeanne de Luca
Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:54 PM
Joyce: my best to you and your family. That sounds like a lovely service - not just a funeral service, but a celebration of your dad's life.
Comment: #72
Posted by: Roxeanne de Luca
Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:57 PM
Re: Kisha Say good riddance to that man. It was cruel of him to use you and skip town when you asked for a commitment. You and your children deseve a lot better treatment from a man. I hope you find a man who is worthy of you--soon. Good luck!
Comment: #73
Posted by:
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:26 PM
Re: Lisa
Post #35

Very fine post. Well done.

Comment: #74
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:33 PM
Re: happymom- You sound like a great mom . You have nothing to worry about.



@aimai- I really liked your magnanimous message to gerhardt.

@gerhardt- I hope you tell us more about yourself . What you said about yourself was very interesting and I would like to know more about you.
Comment: #75
Posted by:
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:39 PM
Re: gerhardt

I never said that women are more emotionally mature than men. I said that women are emotionally stronger than men, which isn't the same thing at all. Being stronger means your breaking point to stress or abuse is higher, not that you're more mature in dealing with it.

I am glad to hear that you do 99.9% of the cooking, and that the guys in your entourage do at least 50%. But I hope you understand that your experience and entourage do not constitute a social study in itself - birds of a flock tend to fly together.

Recent studies tend to point out that the distribution of houseold chores - including cooking - are still heavily skewed towards women. But thankfully, things are changing, the proof of which, you do 99.9% of the cooking. A hundred years ago, that would have been unheard of.

Comment: #76
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:42 PM
Re: Maria

I think it does vary according to the community. Believe me when I say I know so many people... By and large, what I have seen in the Quebec society is that women do most of the housework. Occasionally, you will find a guy who does most of the cooking, because he prides himself in being a cordon-bleu, and we all know (dripping with sarcasm here) that women merely cook while men are CHEFS. But it's the owmn who generally do the dishes... I'm afraid that here, stereotypes are alive and kicking - generally at women.

I am glad to hear that things are changing faster in some places than I have been seeing here! At least about that. Quebec people have other qualities.

Comment: #77
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:59 PM
Re: Maria

I feel sad (and outraged) for your sake that your father is accusing you of choosing the ex over them when they are the one forcing you to make a choice in the first place. Neither your sister nor your parents have any business dictating to your husband whom he chooses to associate with. We're not exactly talking about a mob boss here.

Well, it would seem that your family expected to shut up, grin and bear it about the molesting cousin because "he's family" and yet you're not family enough to be allowed your own associations. Gee, In WONDER if this has to do with the cousin being male and you being female.... just wonderin'... sarcastically.

The threats and tantrums are nothing but emotional blackmail. Keep strong and cleave to your husband, he's the one who's proven true to you in everything so far.

Comment: #78
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:06 PM
I'm hoping ths isn't double post. I'm having problems with the system.

Roxanne: My mother changed her will and, in our province, they are virtually unassailable. I didn't want to go that route, but a neighbour who is a notary, suggested that when she heard that my brother was threatening me with legal action (ie., as in "we're gonna sue you after mom's gone"). The notary talked to my mom and when my mom took into consideration all I was doing and the stress that my brother's threats were having on me--she heard his phone messages from time to time--she followed the advice of the notary.

Protecting me from a potential lawsuit was one of her main reasons. With the will in my name only, I can give my brother what I think he deserves and I don't have to keep track of the spending quite so precisely (although I do everything online, so there's always a record). Just not having to keep a detailed record of every expenditure took a lot of pressure off me. I was busy enough just looking after my mom and not having to chase down every cent definitely made like easier.

I think I bring this up on this forum because I often see adult LWs complaining about their parents. I know there are some really lousy parents out there, but I do wonder if some of these people are using the "difficulty" they have with their parents to get out of taking care of them. That's why I mention the money and the inheritance as often as I do. The stories about incommunicado or indfferent siblings showing up at a funeral to claim their share of their parents' wealth is a really, really common phenomenon.

Maggie Lawrence made a point about the will being a will and therefore not something *I* have any say in. Generally I agree that the adult children of elderly parents shouldn't have a say in these matters, but I do see more and more caregivers getting resentful of their non-participating siblings. And sometimes that resentment is the thing that tips the balance in favour of the sibling who is doing all the work.

The one other woman who has been proactive in this sense and on her own behalf is actually the SIL of a friend of mine.

My friend believes her SIL has pressured my friend's ILs to leave her more of their wealth (which is significant). Because her SIL is the one driving her parents around for drs appointments, hospital visits, etc., my friend believes her SIL has guilt-tripped her parents into leaving her significantly more than her brother (my friend's husband). Her SIL made no secret of the fact that she was talking to her parents about this. My friend said her SIL was using the argument that she was a single mother to make her parents feel guilty.

My friend and I had a very difficult IM discussion about this one night while she was in Europe with her husband. (They live there while his ageing parents are here.) I said that I understood her SIL's position since I was doing a lot of the caregiving and was not getting any help either. My friend didn't like what I said and I backed off before things got ugly, but I had a hard time understanding why she and her husband were thinking about hiring a lawyer to "protect their interests" when her SIL was run off her feet taking care of TWO elderly parents (and two kids). My friend and her husband are not exactly poor and I did think that even if they couldn't be there in person to help, they could offer to pay a homecare worker to come in once a week or so to relieve his sister. They can certainly afford it.

That situation is one reason why I bring this up occasionally. I do think it's quite possible for resentful siblings to influence their parents and I'm not sure that's a bad thing. It's all about taking responsibility for one's parents in as fair a manner as possible. I just don't think that siblings who make a point of staying away, or of blaming their parents for being less than wonderful, should also have expectations of windfall inheritances. Doesn't seem logical to me, although I'm sure there are a lot of people out there (with an exaggerated sense of entitlement) who would disagree. I'm just on the side of the caregiving children because I obviously am one myself .
Comment: #79
Posted by: irene
Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:09 PM
Re: Maria

If you can type all day about it more easily than talk about it in person, why don't you check counselling recources online?

Comment: #80
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:10 PM
Re: Maria

Your painnand trauima are not being weighed on a Peter scale. Just because others have gone through worse than you doesn't mean you don't deserve to be helped as well. As I always say, worse is no excuse for bad. And what you went through was very bad, and compounded by your family consciously looking the other way. You need and deserve therapy just as much as anyone who may have been through "worse".

Comment: #81
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:18 PM
Re: Maria- You said that you were "just" sexually abused by your cousin for a year. You are minimizing your horrible experience by saying that you do not belong in a support group for victims. I think you should call the number of a support group for survivors of sexual abuse. If you cannot afford a therapist,a support group can help you. I still can't believe that your parents forced you to visit your abuser instead of protecting you from him. Instead of ranting at you for talking to your sister's ex,these people(your sister too) should be begging you to forgive them for their past behavior towards you.
Comment: #82
Posted by:
Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:45 PM
Re: Lise Brouillette, if women are emotionally stronger than men, to the point that they can handle things without resorting to violence and abuse, then why is it that statistics overwhelmingly show that children are abused far more by their mothers than their fathers, and are far more likely to be killed by their mothers than their fathers? (No, it's not because fathers are absent--this holds true when both parents are in the home.) You have told Gerhardt that his own life experience doesn't make a study, but niether does yours. Yes, women do most of the housework; men also work more hours outside the home. I get the feeling you have had some unpleasant experiences with men and/or abuse, and I'm sorry for that, but whether you see it or not, your bias that men are generally violent and women are innocent victims is overwhelming sometimes. It makes me not want to come on here. In fact, I think this will be my last post.
Comment: #83
Posted by: Jane
Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:21 AM
Jane, two things: check out murder statistics. Who gets murdered by a spouse more often, men or women? Second, check out suicide stats. Who kills themselves more often? Men or women? The violence from those two stats alone favour men as the more violent gender, atlhough the point you make about domestic violence is interesting.
Comment: #84
Posted by: irene
Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:30 AM
Re: Kisha

You have a lot of cleaning up to do.

You should forget about this man. He doesn't have a fear of commitment, he has a fear of adulthood. Plus, he's extremely selfish and has no shame. He has no problem leading on a woman for a year and letting her children get attached to him, and all this time he's just playing a game, as in take-take-take, with no intention whatsoever of giving anything in return - the minute there is a mere mention of any real relationship, all of a sudden he has an urge to run. Isn't THAT nice.

I know you heart is breaking. But the longer you continue with him, the more attached you three will grow and it will get worse, not better. Your children will be even more harmed.

This is a time where attack is the best defense. Kick him out. Let him run to the end of the Earth if he wants. Perhaps there will be a miracle and he'll realise what he's lost, but I wouldn't count on it. At any rate, you will only be anticipating what he'll end up doing anyway, and it will be much easier on you and your breaking heart if you're the one in charge and taking control. It will also give a better example to your children. The role models they presently have are that of an absentee father and of a second father figure who is a selfish, wimpy little Peter Pan.

And may I suggest you keep your love live a little more discreet the next time, and only introduce your new beau when the relationship is actually going somewhere? This is not good for them and it is not good for your relationship with them, to be subjected to a string of men who don't give a damn about them, only easy sex with their mother. You want your children growing up thinking this is all a woman is good for? This is how children become mysogynists, you know.

Comment: #85
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:06 AM
Re: Jpp

You got a point.

Comment: #86
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:07 AM
Re: happymom

You're doing fine and you'll do even better. I'm glad to know you're not clingy and about to dig out the war hatchet on your future DILs. You have to admit that, from our vantage point, as you know well, the letters almost always leave a lot to be desired in terms of details.

I'm glad you'll not turn out to be like the mother of one of my exes, who behaved like her husband was having an affair when he moved in with me. She lost 30 pounds, went through a daily crying fit for three months, it was like she was losing the love of her life to a shameless hussy and her little heart was broken. And all this because I was four years older than him, was a recent divorcee and had a young child - how much more of a whore can I be?

I was seeing a shadow of that when I read your letter and, given the scant detail, wondering if a version of that was in the making. Thank you for reassuring me and letting us know that it was you and that you're doing fine!

Comment: #87
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:24 AM
Re: Jane

I don't know why, but your understanding of anything I write seems to be completely distorted.

I said "women are emotionally stronger than men". I never said, "to the point that they can handle things without resorting to violence and abuse". You are putting words in my mouth. I said that being emotionally stronger merely meant that their breaking point to stress and abuse was higher, not that they were more mature about dealing with the it. Resorting to violence is an immature way of dealing with stress and abuse and, yes, women do that just as often as men.

I also never said that men are always violent and women always innocent victims, quite the contrary in fact, so you are being overwhelmed by something that doesn't exist. And no, my life experience is not a study in itself either, and I have even said that many times - you only read what you want, I think.

Frankly, I don't understand your attitude. Not only you totally misunderstand what I write and twist it around to blame me for statements I never made, but I haven't said anythying offensive to anyone and certainly not to you, for you to indignantly threaten to pack up and leave. If you wish to do that, it's your choice. Suit yourself.

Comment: #88
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:07 AM
erratum to post #87 -

who behaved like her husband was having an affair when HER SON moved in with me
Comment: #89
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:11 AM
@Irene

Thank you for going to bat for me. Jumping to conclusions is a very common mistake in logics - you say something that goes from A to D, the person listening drives it all the way to W and then (indigantly) blames you for the W. I see that all the time.

My sister-friend Sandra is very good at that. If I catch right in the act, I can stop her right there and say, hey, hey, hey, this is NOT what I said, repeating my exact wording next to the spin she puts on it. Then she'll try to cover it up by saying, "Well, it means the same thing!" But it never does, and I have to correct her again. But it's always good for that time only, she never learns to stop jumping the gun.

She does have sterling qualities in other respects, otherwise I wouldn't put up with her drama and her neurotic dysfunctionaly!

Comment: #90
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:24 AM
Re: sharnee
I don't think LW1 said that he knew the father's rules -- he could very well have found out later (from Maria or directly from her father, after LW1 presented her with the dance tickets) about his rules.
Comment: #91
Posted by: Bobaloo
Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:48 AM
Re: Lise Brouillette--I wish my son getting married had made me lose 30 pounds. I'd be ecstatic if that happened.

You, of all people, know that women are capable of violence, too.

And Jane--If flouncing off (I'm never coming back!) makes you feel better, great. The rest of us think it makes you look like you're about 10.

Comment: #92
Posted by: Joannakathryn
Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:54 AM
Bobaloo - I could be inferring a lot from what was written, but I do get the impression that LW1 knew Maria's parents and he had to have been aware of the no dating rule, since he said, " I am a junior in high school. I have been with my wonderful girlfriend, "Maria," since our freshman year. Her parents won't let her officially date until she is 16, which will be soon."

After seeing a girl for two years and never having been able to go on a date with her, I think it should have been pretty clear to him that Maria was not allowed to go out with him. Plus, he mentioned that he presented the tickets at her birthday party and her father was present. He also mentions "now whenever I see him..." so it is obvious that they know each other. My guess is that Maria's parents are aware that the two are interested in each other and may have even been ok with it - I think they probably liked LW1- they just feel that Maria is too young to date. This would explain why Maria's dad would feel disappointed the LW made this particular move without having that man to man, would you please make this one exception conversation.

I could be wrong...
Comment: #93
Posted by: sharnee
Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:51 PM
I bet that LW1 didn't even think of a school dance as a "date," since it was a school function that would be attended by possibly hundreds of other students, along with various teachers and other adults as chaperones.
Comment: #94
Posted by: Paul
Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:18 AM
Re: LW2 (happymom)
Lise B in #13 reminded us that parent of sons will GAIN A DAUGHTER. I am looking forward to this. I have two sons aged 20 and 19. I like meeting their girlfriends. My sons have good taste and I didn't have to raise a daughter through her teenage years! Even if my son was gay – I'd think how great to have another young man to love! Open your heart and they will be just fine.

Love your sons for who they are and help them to be confident, courageous and caring humans. They will repay you for those lessons with filial devotion.

Ann #26 – what a wonderful family you have. Congratulations!

Karina Read #53 – I agree wholeheartedly – and you've said what I often advise. Thanks for getting there first.

Maria – I think Aimai's suggestions were very good and hope you will reconsider. Your past is important to you, you needn't feel that it is not worthy of a survivor group. It is affecting how you feel about yourself in so many ways. I am glad you can share it with us here, and we will be glad to have you post any time.

Joyce – you might not see this but I add my fond regards to all the others. You have moved my soul with the description of your father's funeral.
Comment: #95
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:20 PM
Re: sharnee

I think you and I are going to have to disagree on whether LW1 knew the father, or at least knew of his rules. That said, right or wrong on the father's part, his only wrongdoing here, at least from my standpoint, seems to be he assumed that the boy should have known (and been taught) to ask his father permission to date before presenting her with the tickets. Sounds to me like when he finally does say yes to a boy (either LW1 or someone else), it'll be a case of the story in the country hit "Cleaning This Gun (C'mon In, Boy)" by Rodney Atkins.
Comment: #96
Posted by: Bobaloo
Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:56 PM
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