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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Being gracious to ungrateful girlfriend challenges parents

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have always had a warm and close relationship with our college-aged children. We often host their friends in our home, making certain they’re comfortable, well-fed and welcome.

My son brought his girlfriend home for long weekends several times this year. Not once has she said thank you for meals, gifts or entertainment. When I asked her if the standing rib roast I had served was OK – it’s my specialty – she said it wasn’t cooked the way she likes it.

She shows absolutely no interest in us, our home or the community in which our children grew up. She does offer to clear the table, but that’s the extent of it. Upon leaving, she will say, “Thanks.” With the exception of one brief e-mail, we have never received a written note from her.

We love our son, and he may love her. But we’re not eager to clean, shop for, cook and host this young lady again. If our son wants to bring her home for another holiday, what do you suggest we say or do?

– Disgusted in Seattle

DEAR DISGUSTED: While your feelings are understandable, and you may be tempted to tell your son what you’ve told me, bite your tongue. If you say anything negative about his girlfriend, it will make him defensive and his instinct will be to defend her.

It would not, however, be “attacking” her to gently share with him that you and his father were “disappointed” that you never received a thank-you note from his house guest, and wonder if she was raised without having been taught the social graces. If he’s serious about her, he might clue her in. But if he doesn’t, and he wants to bring her home for the holidays, I have the ideal gift for her: a book on etiquette.

DEAR ABBY: Last week, my oldest daughter shocked me by informing me that her father had molested her and her sister many times when they were little. When I told her that I had known nothing about it, she screamed and called me a liar.

Abby, I was in great distress when my children were young. I didn’t know what was going on. I divorced him when the two youngest were 5. He was an alcoholic and bipolar, in and out of jail and mental hospitals frequently. I would be in prison today had I known, because I would have killed him.

Now, 46 years later, I am asking your advice. Is there anything I can do to this child molester? He ruined both of our daughters’ lives. My oldest has been drug- and alcohol-addicted for years. She is only now dealing with her addictions. He lives in a group home for bipolar people and often goes on rampages.

Please direct me to a resource for help. I have been in Al-Anon for 41 years and a born-again Christian for 37 years, which has helped me cope with the 19 years of hell my children and I have lived through.

– Houston reader

DEAR READER: Talk to your daughters and ask them to report to the police what happened to them. It would be a step in taking back control of their lives, and because their father may have done this more recently with other little girls, the police should know his history.

While it may be too late to prosecute your ex-husband for what he did to his daughters, if he has continued molesting, it may not be too late to get him for something he has done more recently.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.