Baby’s arrival exposes deep fissures in family

Published 8:18 am Tuesday, January 23, 2024

DEAR ABBY: My stepdaughter, “Zoe,” has recently had her first baby and we are very excited. She lives far away. My husband, “Karl,” is taking the trip, but I have to stay because my elderly mother is living with us. I asked family to stay with Mom, but they’re involved in their busy lives, and Mom clings to me.
While I called to congratulate other relatives on becoming new aunts, etc., none of them reciprocated. Later, one of them reluctantly said they were told I was NOT the grandmother (even if Zoe’s biological mother had passed away), nor would I ever be.
This is bittersweet. I do not want to replace anyone. I’ve been hoping for a grandchild for a long time. I have been with Karl for more than 20 years. I’m crushed. No pictures are being sent to me, though when I was planning Zoe’s wedding from soup to nuts, we were in constant contact and I thought we were growing closer. I guess not.
How do I navigate this? My mother-in-law is barely speaking to me since I can’t join in the trip to see the baby and has become very snotty. Must I just admire from afar like a bystander, pretending to care? – CAST ASIDE IN NEW YORK

DEAR CAST ASIDE: I wish you had mentioned which family member was telling the others you’re not to be considered that baby’s grandmother. Could it have been Zoe’s mother? If that’s the case, there appears to be more than a little jealousy on her part and a blatant attempt to isolate you.
You are the child’s STEP-grandmother, and photos should be shared with you. I hope Karl will impress this upon his daughter as well as let her know how hurt you have been by the treatment you have been receiving. What happened was unjustified. The more love in this world, the better, and labels should be used to include rather than isolate.
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DEAR ABBY: My friend often complains that she and her husband don’t have any other friends and she doesn’t know why. I know why, but I’m not sure if I should say anything.
Her husband is nice, but he’s a long-winded talker who takes over every conversation, bragging about himself and the people he knows. I believe he does this to impress people, but it actually repels them. He does this every time, and I have witnessed guys walk away and keep their distance from him. This includes my husband.
She wants my husband to get closer to him, but my husband can’t stand him because of this. So, should I be honest and tell her what the deal is? I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Or must I keep pretending I don’t know? – KNOWS WHY IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR KNOWS: I think you would be doing the woman a favor by telling her something like this: “I can’t arm-twist my husband into a closer relationship with yours than they already have. If you would like to know why, I will tell you.” If she says yes, explain that you like her very much, but her husband’s need to dominate the conversation and brag about his accomplishments, net worth, etc. (fill in the blanks) drives people away.
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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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Good advice for everyone – teens to seniors – is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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