Dear Annie: I’m a 45-year-old woman, and my boyfriend is 36. His family loves me, except for his dad. I don’t know what I have done for him to dislike me. I should say that at one point, in the past, he used to like me.
When my boyfriend’s mom was diagnosed with cancer, I was there each time she was in the hospital. My boyfriend and I would take turns with his dad staying at the hospital overnight so she was never alone.
When she was sent home from hospice, I quit working and spent a month at their home taking care of her, including cooking and cleaning. I would help give her medicine, and when neither of them could give her a bath, I did it. When she did pass, I was the one making everyone comfortable and helping with breakfast and dinner for 10-15 people every day up until the funeral. I even stayed another week after to make sure my boyfriend and his dad were OK.
Whenever I would see his father, I would say hi and ask how he was doing, but he would just ignore me and give me a “How dare you speak to me?” look. I’m now to the point where I just don’t want to be around him. Last time my boyfriend went to his dad’s for a gathering, he invited me but I turned him down. I explained that I know I am not welcome there by his father. Why would I put myself in that uncomfortable situation? But I did tell him to go and have fun.
I don’t know why his dad dislikes me so much, and whenever my boyfriend asks, he just rolls his eyes. It makes it difficult for me when I go to his other relatives for holidays because of his father being there and knowing he hates me. I never stay long because he makes me feel unwanted. What can I do? What should I do? -- Dazed with Confusion
Dear Dazed with Confusion: You can’t control how he treats you, but you can control how you react to him. Understand that this man lost his wife. He is probably grieving tremendously. It is possible that he associates you with his wife’s death and is taking out his pain on you. Is it fair to you? No, not at all.
But the understanding that he is acting rude or mean toward you will hopefully help you gain some perspective and not take it so personally. It might also be worth having a direct conversation with him yourself and just acknowledge his loss and ask him if there is anything you can do to become friends again.
Dear Annie: Please accept my expertise here, from a 35-year career as a children’s clinical counselor and school counselor.
Bruises left on a child is not an ambiguous issue.
A grandmother wrote to you about bruises she had seen on her grandchildren, and they blamed their mother. You recommended talking to her son -- the father of the children -- and if there was no improvement, to report them.
As an expert in this field, I can tell you that, while the grandmother is not what the law calls a “mandated reporter” of child abuse, she knows there is consistent abuse and there have been bruises. You should have told her to call Protective Services.
She should also call the children’s school and ask for the counselor, or principal if there’s no counselor, and report what she knows.
Her son is in a “failure to protect” situation, and he is not the person to leave decisions up to, or rely on, to stop the abuse. He is in a codependent position with this angry, dominating mother. -- Protective Services
Dear Protective: Thank you for your professional opinion. I agree with everything you say, including that I was ambiguous in my advice. The grandmother had written, “I think reporting on their mother would make the situation worse,” and I was trying to accommodate her fear. But in the end, the children come first, and I very much appreciate your letter.
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