Readers take Abby to task for being too easy on Dad
DEAR ABBY: I have read you for years, and I must take issue with your answer to “Needs the Right Words” (March 17). He asked about his son and his son’s half-brother visiting his beach house. (He didn’t want the half-brother included.)
While you addressed the writer’s needs, and yes, he is entitled to his feelings, I think you should have taken this a step further.
Once you become a father, it is not all about “you” anymore. The 12-year-old boy is now, and forever will be, his son’s half-brother. Unless this man wants to distance himself from his son and cause permanent damage to their relationship, he needs to get some therapy so he will be able to think of that boy in a different way and can deal with him in the future. He is NOT in a “good place” as he stated if seeing this boy causes such an emotional issue. The two boys seem to have a good relationship, and a future with his son will — and should — include the half-brother, even if the visits are short ones.
Someday that boy will be a grown man, and he will recognize the kindness shown to him. The boy is not responsible for his mother’s behavior and the father needs to realize that. — DEBORAH IN CHANDLER, ARIZ.
DEAR DEBORAH: You are right. It would have been better for all concerned if I had been harder on the father and more sensitive to the feelings of the boys involved, which many readers pointed out to me:
DEAR ABBY: I almost always agree with your answers, but your answer to that letter was off the mark. It’s admirable that his son has such a close relationship with his half-brother, and not allowing the boys to do something they enjoy together for a weekend is wrong. That the writer admits he still has problems with the past is his problem, not the kids’.
Since he admits it brings up feelings he THOUGHT he had put behind him, he should get professional help to finally deal with those unresolved issues. Also, if he doesn’t want the 12-year-old in his house for one weekend of fun, then he should take his wife away for a romantic weekend and let the boys use the beach house in his absence. It’s all about compromise, not the ultimatum. — BEEN THERE, DONE THAT IN KANSAS
DEAR ABBY: Tell that man to get a psychotherapist! The child isn’t responsible for his mother’s behavior. The man needs to expand his heart. When he’s an old man he will never regret hosting the boy, but he WOULD regret having hurt a child and perhaps alienating his own son in the process. You called that one wrong, Abby! — LESLIE R., CHAMPAIGN, ILL.
DEAR ABBY: I agree with your advice more often than not, although I suspect we are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. That father needs to grow up and put the feelings of his son and his son’s half-brother before his own. It’s time people learned once more what it means NOT to be selfish and think of their own feelings, but the feelings of others. Please reconsider your response. — PAUL W., JOHNSON CITY, TENN.
DEAR PAUL: I have, and I regret my initial answer.
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.