DEAR AMY: Our daughter is divorcing her husband of 25 years, “Scott.” They have an 18-year-old daughter who is in 11th grade.
We had no idea this situation was happening until we were told of their divorce. It seems that Scott has turned their daughter, “Maggie,” into his new mother/girlfriend in every way but sexual.
They cuddle together, dress alike, whisper and giggle together in front of our daughter. They go out on dates, text constantly, even when Maggie is in school, and Maggie helped Scott fill out the divorce papers.
The teen has cut herself off from our daughter and believes every bad thing her dad tells her about her mom, even very private issues.
Our daughter is not allowed to attend school conferences about Maggie or hear about her health issues.
If that weren’t bad enough, Scott and Maggie are moving across the country together to be with his family, who support him and his plans.
We don’t know if he can even find a job. He told Maggie she will have no more curfews, can get tattoos, smoke, doesn’t need to bother finishing school, etc. The list goes on.
She won’t listen to her mom, us or anyone else. She shouts that she is 18 and “an adult.” She keeps saying that her mom has friends to talk to, “but dad only has me.”
We think this is emotional incest, but she is 18 so there is nothing much any of us can do to stop her. Maybe if she sees a response from you, she might think twice about this decision that could ruin her life. — Concerned Grandparents
DEAR CONCERNED: I don’t think it is wise to throw around the phrase “emotional incest,” but this does seem like a severe case of parental alienation.
Legally there is nothing your family can do to prevent this 18-year-old from aligning with her father, moving, dropping out of school, getting tattoos, etc. (although her mother should attend school conferences, unless there is a court order against her).
Pushing really hard will cause this teen to back away with equal force, and so my advice to all of you is to turn your focus away from punishing her for her immaturity, bad judgment and twisted perspective about her parents — and point it toward keeping in touch and keeping the door open for a relationship.
She is too young to resist being manipulated by one (or both) of her parents. Let her know that as her loving grandparents you are concerned about her, that you love her and that you hope for the best for her. Encourage her to complete her education, and offer your help to achieve healthy goals.
DEAR AMY: We have seven grandchildren, and we treat all of them equally, although two are not biologically ours.
However, as we are getting older and talking about inheritance, we find that we are in a quandary about our estate.
Our two stepgrandchildren had wealthy grandparents, who we know provided for their child and them.
Our estate will be modest, and we have been advised by a number of estate planners and lawyers that we should not feel it necessary to provide for the stepgrandchildren.
Our biological grandchildren will not be receiving anything from their other grandparents, so what we leave them will be their only inheritance. We would appreciate your views on this or feedback from others who have found themselves in similar situations. — Stumped Nana
DEAR NANA: I think you should give each grandchild an equal (and modest) amount and (depending on your age, etc.) put your primary inheritance into the hands of the parents of these children, who can use it for their kids’ education, etc., in proportion to the financial needs of each child.
I will happily run suggestions from readers.
DEAR AMY: I cannot believe your answer to “Burdened,” the mom whose teen daughter is sexually active. Sending kids toward contraception is not the answer. Abstinence is.
I raised two sexually pure daughters and not from promoting birth control. — Happy Father
DEAR FATHER: “Sexually pure?” I shudder at how you define that — but offer you my congratulations.