Q. My sister has been dating “Bob” for 18 months. About six months into dating, Bob began to publicly display odd behavior, such as asking my father if he was going to be put into his will, or if he’d be given one of his cars.
This prompted a few family members (including myself) to look into this guy’s history. We found out that he lied about his profession, was arrested but not convicted of rape in college (the girl wouldn’t testify), and was involved in a private high school scandal in which he was kicked out of teaching for possession of child pornography (of students) in another city.
My wife and I used to let our young daughter hang out with my sister and him, but since then we’ve obviously cut out any visits.
We told my sister what we learned and despite the information she chose to believe him that all of it is just a misunderstanding. Of course, it’s her right to make this choice.
Since this confrontation, other family members have had issues with this guy, including one time when he made sexual comments to a family member.
My sister and he are now getting married. My wife and I would prefer not to attend the wedding and don’t want our daughter involved. It has caused significant drama within our family as my parents want us to attend to support my sister.
I believe she’s making a mistake in marrying this guy. She is free to do as she pleases, but I just don’t think that we need to be there to witness it.
What would you do?
A. Generally, I believe in holding one’s nose and attending weddings in order to support the family member whose unfortunate judgment may require family solidarity and/or intervention down the road.
However, given what you have learned about this guy, I can understand why you want to give this event a wide berth. If so, you should be straightforward with your sister: “Unfortunately, because of serious concerns we have about ‘Bob’s’ history and character, we aren’t able to support your choice to marry him. Attending the wedding would be hypocritical on our part, and we regret that we won’t be there.”
If you choose to attend, definitely find something else for your daughter to do that day. Under no circumstances should you place her in this man’s path.
Q. I’m the oldest of my siblings. We all have the same mother, but different fathers.
Last night while combing through Facebook I was reminded of how they only call, come around, and/or include me when they want something.
I got to wondering about why this dynamic exists. I also wondered what you would think about it.
These questions ran through my head: What does family mean to these people?
Why do family members only call or include me when they only want something from me? Should I even call them family? Or should I call them something else — or not call them anything? And lastly, how should I react to their behavior? What is the correct way to handle this?
Odd Member Out
A. If you are the oldest of your siblings, all with different fathers, it seems probable that your home life might have been challenging or chaotic.
As the oldest, your siblings may see you as a parental figure; someone to turn to when they want or need something.
If there is a substantial age difference between all of you, and if the fathers and your mother are unavailable or low-functioning — you would be perceived as the stable, sturdy lifeline for your sibling group.
None of this seems particularly fair to you, because you want to be a sibling — not a parent.
I hope you will find a way to discuss this with all of your siblings, in a loving and honest way. The messy, complicated family dynamic can be very slow to change. But it can change, and — for all of your sakes — I hope it will.
Q. “Furious” described their decision not to attend their nephew’s wedding because her adult children hadn’t been invited.
Thank you for calling out their pettiness. Parents should not be so involved in their adult kids’ lives that they are proactively insulted and inflate every slight.
A. One of the pleasures of having adult children is that there is no longer a need to fight every battle for them.
Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.