Dear Annie: I'm the mother of six children, three girls and three boys. I've discovered something that is hurtful to me. At my daughters' homes, they have lots of photos of me and their dad and me alone or with them. But at my sons' homes, there are no photos of me or even me with one of them. One son has a group photo with me in it. They have their own photos as parents out prominently though. They seem to like me. I know it isn't true in all families, but I'm wondering if boys are just not aware of things like this or what? Our daughters-in-law are uncaring. — Dumbfounded
Dear Dumbfounded: There are many ways of expressing love. Just because someone isn't showing you that they love you in all the ways you'd prefer doesn't mean they don't. Your sons are inviting you into their homes, and that matters far more than the decor. Let this one go, and be grateful for your time together.
Dear Annie: I am writing about my stepdaughter, who is 64 years old. My first husband passed away in an accident when my son and two daughters were very young. Later, I got remarried, to a man named "Steve." Steve had two sons, and his oldest child was a daughter, "Jill," who was 13 when we married. At first, Jill seemed fine with our marriage. As time went on, it was obvious she was extremely jealous of my daughters and resentful of me. She stayed with her mother, who was an alcoholic and unfaithful to my husband. My husband's two sons came to live with us. When my daughters grew up and got married, Jill did not come to either of the weddings.
Though Jill hardly visited us, we paid for her college tuition, books and car insurance, and we gave her spending money. Once she graduated from college, we paid for her wedding and helped her and her husband with other expenses.
As time passed, I would remember Jill and her husband with cards on holidays and on birthdays. She never acknowledged the cards, and after about six years or so I stopped sending all cards except for on Christmas and birthdays.
Over the years, Jill had a bad habit of lying, didn't pay her bills in a timely manner, and she and her husband had to take bankruptcy. My husband co-signed a note at the bank for them. They finally paid the loan. My husband didn't trust her in general because of her lying.
Jill's dad and I were married 40 years. He passed away of complications of Alzheimer's eight years ago. I cared for him at home during his illness. Jill came to see her dad after his diagnosis rarely, maybe twice a year.
My oldest stepson passed away about six years before my husband. The other stepson passed away four months after my husband's death. I was responsible for his funeral expenses.
I have sent text messages, and she will respond to those, but that is the extent of our relationship.
I'm sad that we have no contact. I have shared with a few close friends and they told me it's obvious that she doesn't want a relationship. What are your thoughts? — A Faithful Reader
Dear Faithful Reader: There is really no right answer here. So, my advice is trust your instincts and you can't go wrong. Continue to reaching out to her if and when you feel the urge to. Heed your gut if it seems that she might be lying or trying to take advantage of you financially at any point.
I am so sorry for the major losses you've suffered. I hope your stepdaughter can open her heart to you in time, and that you might find some comfort in each other.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]