Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dear Abby

I read "Dear Abby" a lot. I guess just out of habit. Sometimes her advice is great, but other times, it's really lousy. For example:

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are having a disagreement and have agreed to let you settle it for us.
My husband has two children, ages 17 and 13, who live with their mother and stepfather. They are with us about 15 percent of the year. Both kids have part-time jobs. They tell my husband what they want for Christmas and their birthdays, and he always gives them generous gifts on those occasions plus presents in between visits. We entertain them with lots of fun activities when they are with us, and take them on expensive trips.

The problem is, they never give my husband any presents at Christmas, his birthday or on Father's Day. Once in a while, they'll send him a card. Family members have spoken to them about this more than once, but there have been no changes.
My husband says he wants to continue to model generosity. I say, enough of this one-sided giving! In a healthy relationship, one person does not make all the effort. I say it's time to modify the giving and/or just give them cards. What do you think? -- HAD IT IN ARLINGTON, WASH.

DEAR HAD IT: Your husband should not suddenly punish his children by cutting off the gifts. Children behave as they have been taught -- usually by their mothers.

When they were younger, their mother should have taken them to buy special occasion gifts for their dad. She probably didn't because she was bitter about the divorce. When they are grown, they may learn to be more thoughtful -- but don't count on it, because patterns of giving are learned in childhood.


Such unbelievable double standards. The mom, sight unseen, is "bitter". Damn bitter women - the cause of every problem in the known universe, apparently. Anyway, I wrote a letter to her as follows:

This message is in reply to your answer to "Had it in Arlington, Wash." I think it's quite unfair to automatically blame the mother for children's poor behavior. You said the mother was "probably bitter about the divorce" and so didn't take the kids out to buy presents for the dad. No wonder so many moms are stressed - they're judged (accused of being bitter, even) for things they have little control over, like a 17-year old's behavior.

Your answer is one more example of how fathers simply aren't judged the same way. I could spin the story completely differently and say that the dad was bitter and didn't take the kids out to get presents for mom, and that's why they didn't learn proper behavior.

My advice would be for the dad to simply reduce his gifts to less expensive, but still meaningful items. (There's nothing wrong with this anyway, even if the kids are angels.) You might say it's HIS responsibility to do this so the kids will be less materialistic.


Hey, if it gets published, it will have a much wider readership than this blog! Anyway, it had to be said.



Blogger Andrew said...

If you like Dear Abby, you will probably also enjoy this site: To Love, Honor and Dismay

6:40 PM, August 29, 2006  

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