Next Score View the next score

    Dear Margo

    Dear Margo column

    Q. My son is intelligent, well educated, and reasonably attractive. I raised him as a single mother and always put him first, ahead of a career and my social life. He married four years ago for the first time (in his early 40s). He married an intelligent, well-educated, and reasonably attractive woman, not much younger than he, from a wealthy family (which we are not). They had a huge formal wedding with many guests. They have good careers and settled in the New England city where I live, and they now have two adorable children.

    The problem is that his wife is controlling, self-centered, and status seeking. My son has always been totally clueless about women and is completely under her thumb. Her mother (who’s just like her) started planting little tidbits to create a division between my son and me. My daughter-in-law, in turn, started passing on these tidbits to my son. Result: He began treating me terribly and parroting things I knew were my daughter-in-law’s words. We’ve become more and more estranged.

    She controls my son, as well as how and when I can see my grandchildren. I live 20 minutes away, but can only visit them in their lovely home when she has something to do; I can’t visit when she is there.


    I wasted my life raising my son to be the best he could be, and this is my reward. I expected that when he was successful and had a family, I would enjoy his success and his family. I guessed wrong.


    Get The Weekender in your inbox:
    The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    A. While your daughter-in-law and her mother sound like status-seeking witches, something is haywire with your son’s values that he would permit his mother to be marginalized. You seem aware of his failings, however, when you write that he is clueless about women. That he would go along with excluding you speaks poorly of his values and suggests that he is weak.

    I would lay it on the line the next time you are alone, telling him how you feel, how he is being manipulated, and how he needs to think for himself, especially about his own mother. If that fails, and I suspect it might, you will have to accept that this is how your only child turned out.

    Q. A woman named “Cynthia” and I have been pals for more than 15 years. Within the past eight months, however, whenever I’ve tried to make a date to get together, she always has some excuse. Her mother-in-law is visiting, her dog has to go to the vet, her husband’s boss’s wife asked her to make cupcakes for a get-together, one kid’s teacher needs her to be room-mother for two weeks, and excuses I can no longer remember.

    I’ve wracked my brain to see whether I could have said or done something to offend her, and I come up blank. I don’t think I’m being paranoid; I think she just doesn’t want to get together. Shall I say something?



    A. It would seem that you and Cynthia are pals no more. If I were in your position, I would stop asking her out. If you can manage it, you might feel better dropping her a note saying you miss the friendship, and if you’ve done anything, you’d appreciate knowing what it was.

    All letters must be sent via the online form at