Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.
Dear Ann Landers: My son's father has taken a permanent leave of absence from our lives. "Arthur" and I divorced when my son was 6. He is now 11.
After the divorce, Arthur was supposed to have custody of our son every weekend. The court order said he should pick up the boy Friday evenings and return him Sunday nights. Arthur immediately made it clear that Friday nights were for bowling, and he had to work on Saturdays. He offered to pick our son up Saturday nights and return him Sundays. I told Arthur that wasn't good enough. I also said he needed to spend more than one evening a week with his son and should make whatever arrangements were necessary to follow the court order. At that point, Arthur became angry and stopped having any contact with us. He said I made things too difficult.
Arthur pays child support, but he never calls or sees his son. He doesn't send birthday cards or Christmas gifts, either. I feel very bad for our boy. He is growing up without a positive male role model in his life. I have not remarried, and my parents live in another state.
Was I wrong to insist that Arthur follow the rules? Arthur says it's my fault he no longer sees his son. Should I have been more flexible about the scheduling? I really would appreciate your advice, Ann. — Single Parent in Iowa
Dear Iowa: Too bad you picked such a lemon for a husband. Unfortunately, you two have a lot of deep-seated anger and unresolved problems.
You are still fighting it out, and your son is the battleground. For the child's sake, you both need to be a lot more giving. After five years of living apart, the wounds should have healed. Apparently, they haven't, so please get some counseling, and learn how to resolve whatever differences you have.
Dear Ann Landers: My in-laws are nice people, but they cannot seem to be on time for anything. Last Saturday, they showed up two hours late for dinner. They made the usual tiresome excuses, but there were no apologies, and I know it will happen again before long.
My wife gets annoyed, but she never would confront her parents. They are extremely sensitive to criticism and sulk if anyone expresses disapproval of their behavior. I don't want to be the bad guy, but this is getting to me. You always have said, "No one can take advantage of you without your permission." How can I handle this without starting a major family feud? — Too Many Times in Kentucky
Dear Kentucky: Hold up dinner exactly 30 minutes by the clock, and then start eating, whether they are there or not. Leave their dinners on the table; don't reheat anything. I'll bet after this happens once or twice, they will be on time.
To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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