Negative Nancy gets in between husband and faraway daughter
DEAR ANNIE: My friend “Nancy” has become one of those stepmothers who negatively influences her husband’s relationship with his adult children.
When things began to turn sour between Nancy and her husband’s daughter, who lived nearby, the daughter retaliated by distancing herself from her father, refusing to see him and avoiding his calls. Nancy persuaded her husband to move across the country. She blames the move on the daughter, who “drove them away,” but I’m sure his daughter sees it as Nancy making sure Dad is totally alienated from his family.
Now, when Nancy’s husband speaks of visiting his daughter and her family, Nancy actively tries to discourage him, reminding him that he wasn’t treated properly. Family members have suggested to Nancy that she allow her husband to handle his relationship with his daughter on his own, but she’s unwilling to do that.
I hope Nancy’s husband reads this and sees himself. Perhaps other men with controlling wives will, too. He should remember that his relationship with his children predates his marriage to Nancy and that he needs to honor that relationship and quit being so passive around his wife. — On the Sidelines, but Been
Dear Sidelines: Many men would rather abandon their children than fight with their wives. They also figure the kids don’t need them that much. But truthfully, kids always need their parents’ love and support, and once a husband takes a firm stand on the issue, the arguments tend to be shorter, and the wife often backs off. But it takes some initial effort. And by the way, this dynamic works with either spouse. There are husbands who push their wives to move away from their kids, and the wives allow it. Sometimes it borders on an abusive, isolating relationship.
You can’t force someone to grow a spine. You’ve expressed your opinion to Nancy, and she has chosen to ignore you. We hope her husband finds a way to reconcile with his daughter before the estrangement is permanent.