Advice | Ask Amy: My daughter excluded my disabled partner from a family gathering


Dear Amy: I’m a widower, and my significant other, “Siena,” is a widow. Long ago, we dated in college (semi-seriously) for a couple years, but “life” got in the way and we drifted apart. We married other people. Both of our spouses are deceased. Decades later, we are now in a wonderful relationship.

Last year I brought Siena to my daughter’s big annual family get-together. We had a great time. We felt welcome (we thought); but this year, it all changed. I received a text from my daughter inviting me, but not Siena, to the party. I texted-back, “What about Siena?” She replied that some of her husband’s family members were uncomfortable with Siena’s attendance.

Here’s the “kicker” … Siena had Polio long ago (as a child), completely paralyzing both of her legs; and she uses long-leg braces and aluminum forearm crutches to walk. I was told that “some” of last year’s attendees were “worried” that she’d trip over the young children scurrying about, but we believe that wasn’t the real reason.

At last year’s party, somebody asked Siena if she had been vaccinated against polio as a child. She replied that her mother would not allow her to get the polio vaccine. She described it like this: “Even way back then, some people were crazy anti-vaxxers.” Evidently, there are some (or at least one) anti-vaxxers in my son-in-law’s family; and Siena’s comment must have offended one or more of them. Or perhaps they just don’t like being around people with disabilities.

We’re just fine not attending the party, but do you think I should have a discussion with my daughter about Siena’s “banishment,” or should I let it slide by to ensure peace with the in-laws? Siena is convinced that we (I) should just let it go. What do you think?

Undecided: You could ask your daughter for further clarity regarding “Siena’s” banishment from her home for this event. (It is possible that these in-laws who are anti-vaccinations are also too delicate, frightened, or offended to confront the consequential reality of a world without vaccination?)

Your daughter might not admit that one or more of her husband’s relatives are in the “crazy anti-vaxxers,” category, but I do think it would be helpful to try to discern how open your daughter is to having a relationship with your partner. You and Siena are together and so Siena is (basically) coming into your daughter’s family. The same dynamic that has you wanting to keep the peace with your in-laws also extends to your daughter, who should extend kindness toward your partner.

After you ask about this, you should listen to your daughter, and — assuming that she won’t supply a satisfying response, you and Siena should stay home together on this day and then, yes — let it go.

Dear Amy: My girlfriend and I are in our late-20s. Recently my grandfather died, and I inherited $500,000! This came as a complete surprise and of course in addition to missing my grandfather and feeling grateful for his generosity, we are thrilled at this unexpected gift.

My girlfriend is eager to retire early. She sees this as life-changing and we are talking about the best way to spend it. We agreed to bring this dilemma to you.

Blessed: I appreciate your trust in me; you should trust a qualified financial adviser even more. My reaction is: This is not your girlfriend’s money to dream about. It is yours.

One way this windfall might be “life-changing” would be for you to take a good look at your girlfriend’s reaction to it. You should not be thinking about how to spend this money, but how to invest or save it. This is a huge amount of money, and yet it is not even close to the amount someone your age would need to retire. (However, if you choose to, it could get you comfortably into your first home, which might be a good investment for you.)

Dear Amy: Responding to “Puzzled Parents” about insisting on As and Bs in college, we have three adult children. We also agreed to rules with regards to paying for their college fees.

Our rules were: You must pass a class for us to continue to pay for continued tuition. You must also complete college before age 30, and our participation only covers bachelor’s degrees. They all felt it was fair, and we are happy to say they all have degrees as of this spring.

Proud: Congratulations to all of you!

© 2024 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.



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