Dear Abby: My parents went through a bitter divorce five years ago and have had little to no contact since then. During the process of the divorce, their communication was through my siblings and me, which took a toll on us. However, despite the turmoil of the divorce, we are still close to both of them.
I’m a medical student who will be graduating next year. I recently brought up the idea of having a graduation party, but my father says he refuses to come if Mom or anyone from her side of the family will be there. This led to a discussion about future weddings and events that will most likely happen soon.
My siblings and I are in our mid- to late-20s, and Dad insists that he won’t attend any future events that Mom will attend, even if it’s his own child’s wedding. It was extremely difficult to hear.
My siblings and I can’t imagine him boycotting something just because he doesn’t want to be in the presence of our mother. We all think he’s overreacting and needs to get over the past. Must we get over the fact that he doesn’t want to be around our mother and allow him to skip these important days? – Child of Divorce in Michigan
Dear Child: Your father may be angry, but he is also being selfish and childish. By telling you what he did, he’s attempting to manipulate you into choosing between him and your mother.
By asking me whether you should “allow” him to skip these important milestones, you appear to be under the impression that you can somehow control your father. You CANNOT control the actions of another adult. You can, however, control the way you react to his behavior.
You and your siblings should not allow yourselves to be manipulated. “Remind” your father that if he follows through with his threat, he will be missed, and the only person he’ll be hurting is himself.