Dear Annie: I am a 51-year-old man and have been unemployed for the past three years. Last year, my wife asked for a divorce.
My question is: What can I do to revitalize my relationship with my three teenage children? I have to initiate all phone calls and texts. They never ask how I am. The youngest is forthcoming about events in his life, but my daughters require extensive questioning, and all I get are brief answers. I understand that they are angry with me, but I am trying my best to get a new job and move on with my life. Every time I see them, I tell them that I miss them, but only my son says he misses me, too.
It is so frustrating that I don't want to do this much longer. I have started applying for jobs out of state so I won't have to deal with the disappointment. I feel that they are trying to keep me out of their lives. If so, I should just stop trying so hard. I don't like spending my days thinking about them and feeling hurt. What do you suggest? — Feeling Unloved
Dear Unloved: Please do not cut your children out of your life because they are angry and confused and taking it out on you. No matter how upsetting their behavior, they still need you. They also need to know that you will not give up on them.
Talk to your ex-wife. Explain how this hurts the children, and ask for her help in maintaining a better relationship — for their sakes. Your contact at this moment in time will reflect on their feelings for you in the future, when they are more mature and able to gain perspective. We know it's hard. Please don't make it permanent.
Dear Annie: My sister and her husband have disowned us because we did not go to a memorial service for her husband's brother, who passed away after a long battle with cancer.
My wife and I saw this brother once every few years at family occasions. We were never at his home. The day of the service, my sister called and asked whether I was coming. I said no, that I had other things going on, and she hung up.
We are in our late 60s, and I think it's a shame for them to end a relationship over this. Were we wrong? — Weighing on My Mind in Pennsylvania
Dear Weighing: The point of attending a funeral is to pay respects to the family. Your sister and her husband were "the family." While you are not obligated to go to the funeral of someone you barely know, it would have been a kindness to go for your sister's sake, or at least give her the impression that you wanted to be there but had other serious obligations.
We do think your sister overreacted in the moment, but we also know you'd like to fix this. So apologize to her. Tell her you are so sorry you didn't go to the funeral, that you should have been there for her and her husband, and that you deeply regret it and hope she can forgive you. It's not too much to do for a sibling relationship that you value.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Frustrated Wife," whose husband leaves the cabinet doors open and never puts tools away.
My wonderful, hardworking, intelligent husband exhibits these same tendencies. I would come home from work exhausted and find the cupboard doors open and things all over the countertops.
At first, I fumed. Then, God put the thought into my head: If my husband were dead, my cupboard doors would be closed, the screwdriver would be put away and nothing would be out of place. So, I started saying to myself, "Thank you. Hubby is still alive." The difference in my attitude makes a big difference in my life. — Petite Wife in Nebraska
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.