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Estranged due to a car loan

Dear Annie

Dear Annie: My stepchildren cut their father out of their lives. It started with his daughter, who did this after her father would not co-sign a car loan. Her own mother had refused as well. Since then, he has reached out to his daughter but gets no response. She doesn’t like me, and when she chose to cut out her dad, I told her that she wasn’t hurting me — I had a wonderful father — she was only hurting herself.

Her siblings did the same. Don’t these adult children get it? If they want to hurt their stepmother, they are not. They are only hurting their father.

My husband worked through his sorrow with a counselor, and he enjoys our family life (with our children). It is very sad that they are punishing themselves and making their stepmom’s life easier. — Stepmother Trying to Help

Dear Stepmother: You are right that the main person she is hurting is herself. If she has children and never reconciles with her father, then depriving her children of a relationship with their grandfather would be very cruel. Grandparents offer another source of love, and the more love we receive, the better. This is especially true for small children.

His daughter will also regret not having a relationship with her father. Sadly, there is nothing you can really do except to keep comforting your husband and encouraging him to reach out to his daughter. Hopefully, she will come to her senses after she figures out that her car loan situation was only the catalyst for expressing her anger.

Dear Annie: I have a gift-giving dilemma. In recent years, we had a falling out with our child’s spouse, and it’s come down to the in-law’s way or no way. As a result, the relationships with our child and grandchildren have also been impacted. Though I love them all dearly, I won’t let the in-law dictate how I live my life.

I’ve continued to send birthday and Christmas money, but there is no acknowledgement of the gifts and, as of late, VERY little contact from our child. It breaks my heart, but I’m trying to let go and let our child decide to initiate further contact because it seems like a one-way effort. While I want them to know they are loved, does it make sense to continue gifting? — To Gift or Not

Dear Gift or Not: It makes the most sense to do whatever you think will facilitate letting them know that you love them. Sometimes taking the high road is the best road. Remind yourself that you are family and you want them to know they are loved. If your love language is to give gifts, then keep giving gifts — and don’t expect any more gratitude than they have shown in the past. You give for yourself. After all, it feels better to give than to receive.

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