Ask Amy: Widower’s relationship with new girlfriend worries his daughters
Updated 12:08 AM; Today 12:08 AM
Ask Amy column
Amy Dickinson writes the syndicated Ask Amy column.
Tribune Content Agency
By Amy Dickinson
Dear Amy: My mom died two years ago. Less than six months later, my
father started dating a new woman.
My siblings and I tried to be as supportive as possible. Our father was
amazing to our mother as she battled cancer. He deserves love and
companionship, and our mother wanted that for him, too.
However, over time it has become evident that this woman’s intentions
are to drive a massive wedge between our father and his four kids. She
has created lies that change our father’s image of each of us. She’s
hidden pictures of our mother and replaced them with ones of herself.
She has insulted the “way we were raised.” She has made each of us feel
so distant — and unwelcome — in our home and with our family.
At this point, all four of us are beginning to feel estranged from our
father. We’ve tried speaking with him and with her, but it always ends
in vicious fights and with our father taking her side.
We want Dad to be happy, but with someone else.
We are hoping that, as he is a devoted reader of your column, he’ll see
this, and your objectivity will provide some clarity.
— Three Daughters
Dear Three Daughters: Unfortunately, trying to rescue someone from the
heartbreak of a toxic relationship most often results in a dynamic that
reminds me of the old “Chinese finger trap” puzzle: the harder you pull,
the harder they cling to the relationship.
Furthermore, his partner can look to your panicked behavior and accuse
you and your sisters of being controlling and manipulative.
And she would be right! You are trying to control your father, because
you can see how his partner is changing the dynamic between you,
gaslighting him and creating a widening breech.
Don’t help her! The more you sisters “gang up” on her, the harder your
father will cling.
Despite your own loss and grief, you likely have no idea of what his
loss has been like and what his needs are.
You’re going to have to do the hardest thing a loved one can do: Respect
your father’s right to make choices about his own life (even if they are
bad choices); maintain a cordial relationship with her (if she is the
gatekeeper to seeing him); never trash or disrespect her (even if you
can’t stand her).
Here is what you convey: “We love you. We want you to be happy. Your
partner isn’t very nice to us, and we worry about you, but you have the
right to make your own choices. We’ll always be your daughters, we’ll
always be here for you, and we’ll do our best to be supportive, no
matter what. Dad, let’s just promise that we will always keep the door
Dear Amy: Why are so many women willing to give up so much just to be
with a man?
I see so many questions to you regarding mistreatment by men, and yet
the women have to turn to you for advice as to whether they should stay
in the relationship?
Has society really convinced so many women that they can’t be happy
without a man?
Dear Wondering: I don’t think that this behavior is exclusive to women.
However, I do believe that for centuries, women have been told and
taught that their true worth lies in their relationships, and that their
womanhood hinged on motherhood, which (until recently) required a mate
and outside financial support.
Lack of access to education and opportunities outside the family
structure reinforced this idea.
When people feel systemically disempowered, they tend to lower their
expectations, and take what they can get, until they don’t have to take
So, welcome to now. People across the spectrum of human experience are
waking up and insisting on change.
Dear Amy: This is in response to your answer to “Worried About Wedding,”
who wondered if she could commit to attending a family wedding next year.
You said, “One thing I hope we have all learned is that each person
needs to be responsible for their own safety, comfort, and health,
regardless of the pressure they may feel to override their own judgment
for the sake of appearances.”
That comment also applies to people like me who choose NOT to wear masks.
— No Mask!
Dear No Mask! Nope. Masks protect others, as well as yourself.
You do not have the right to potentially endanger someone else because
you are too foolish to wear a mask.
You can email Amy Dickinson at ask...@amydickinson.com
or send a letter
to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.
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