Q. I have been living with “Clyde’’ for more than a year. He has a 25-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter. His divorce was long and painful, and his ex-wife involved both children in the mess. She continues to badmouth Clyde to her daughter.
Clyde and I live together and host this girl every other weekend. She is constantly making rude comments to her father and is disrespectful to me. She never says hello when she walks into the house and doesn’t thank me for cooking for her, entertaining her friends, or anything else. She is a guest in my home, and I go out of my way for her.
Clyde refuses to confront her about anything, as she always runs back to her mother, who then calls Clyde and makes me sound like a terrible person.
I have asked Clyde to take her somewhere during the day and return her to her mother at night, but the divorce agreement doesn’t allow for that. Is there a solution to getting along with this girl?
A. The two of you need to work together to do what’s best for this child, and she is not going to make it easy. She is plenty miserable herself, torn between a mother she wants to please by disliking you and a father who lets her get away with it. Clyde needs to set some ground rules to reduce the blatant disrespect. If he doesn’t know how to do it, we recommend family counseling.
Q. Our 11-year-old daughter often spent the night at a friend’s home. We recently discovered that a registered child sex offender lives there as a second residence. The mother did not notify us or any other parents of the criminal record of this family member. We are furious and have reported this mother to the police.
While it may have been safe for our daughter, isn’t it our right as parents to decide that? Please tell the families of child molesters that while they believe their family member is “rehabilitated,’’ they could be wrong. We don’t want our child to pay for their desire to keep silent and ignore a painful truth about a relative with a dangerous predilection for children.
ADVOCATE FOR OUR KIDS IN THE SOUTH
A. Most pedophiles have restrictions placed on their proximity to children, and for good reason. We understand family members who instinctively try to protect one of their own, but you are right that other parents are entitled to have the details about the environment in which their child will be spending time.
Q. You responded to “Texas’’ with wonderful suggestions for coping with the resurfacing of his anger about his horrible childhood.
I would like to suggest one more: writing down the events in a journal that is kept private and securely away from others. This practice is acknowledged in some religious traditions and by therapists as being effective.
I have taught creative writing for a number of years, including memoirs, and believe students find it cleansing. I think his having had the courage to write to you is an enormous first step.
D.D., THE VILLAGES, FLA.
A. Numerous readers made similar suggestions about keeping a journal, saying it helped tremendously. Our thanks to all who offered this effective way to deal with anger.
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