Dear Annie: Against the advice of friends, we gave our daughter and son-in-law the down payment on their home with no strings attached, remembering how hard it was when we bought our first home. Over the years, we loaned them thousands of dollars for what we thought were necessities, while noticing new furniture, appliances, a big-screen TV and computers appearing in their home. We finally said we could not afford to help them anymore.
Since then, my daughter and her family visit only the wealthy parents and grandparents on her husband's side. We've been told not to come over unless we call first, but when we call, we get their machine. Our messages are rarely returned.
We have three grandchildren we've barely seen since January, even though we live nearby. Our youngest grandchild does not recognize us. My daughter told us our grandson's birthday party was on Sunday, and when we stopped by on Saturday to drop off his gift, we discovered the party already in progress.
I believe they feel guilty about the money we gave them and have turned their guilt against us. I don't expect you to have an answer for this. We only want to warn other parents that sometimes their friends are right. —Nebraska Parents
Dear Nebraska: How sad for all of you, especially the children who will never know their grandparents and will believe money is the standard by which to judge people. Please do your best to maintain contact, no matter how limited. When those children grow up, they may choose to be closer to you. Be sure you're available.
Dear Annie: I'm planning a wedding for next year, but there's a problem. I have a dear friend whom my fiance can't stand. I would love to have her stand up in the wedding, but I'm afraid he will have a fit. If I exclude her, however, it could destroy our friendship.
Should I sit him down and talk to him about this, or sit my friend down and let her know she can't be in the wedding? —Desperately in Need of Advice
Dear Desperate: Guess what? Your future husband does not get to decide who your attendants should be. (And you don't get to determine his groomsmen.) If he is unable or unwilling to control his dislike for the duration of the ceremony, it does not speak well for his character or his ability to compromise — so we're hoping he will understand how important this is to you and back off.
Dear Annie: You've printed letters about divorcing couples who use their children as pawns. I'd like to present the other side.
My parents divorced when my sister and I were young, but they always put us first. The custody arrangement said I went to my father's two weekends a month and two weeks every summer, but he also made sure I saw him every single day for lunch. I could go as I pleased between my parents' homes, and they never discussed things like alimony or child support in front of me.
Whenever there was a special occasion, like a school play, my parents would sit together. Holidays were set up to allow us to spend equal time with both sides of the family. My parents were always gracious toward each other's new partners.
I knew things weren't quite so smooth when we children were out of earshot, but I appreciated the veneer of peace between them. My parents were a model of how to separate while leaving your children unscarred, and I thank them every day for putting aside their differences for our sakes. #151;Grateful Daughter
Dear Daughter: Your parents did it right and can set an example for all separated couples everywhere. Thank you for letting us know.
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