Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - By Amy Dick­in­son

Dear Amy: My hus­band and I mar­ried 33 years ago, and blended our fam­ily — his ado­les­cent son and daugh­ter and my sim­i­larly aged daugh­ter.

Af­ter a dif­fi­cult cus­tody bat­tle for my hus­band’s chil­dren, we pre­vailed and our chil­dren grew up to­gether. There were rocky mo­ments but many good ones, too. My hus­band’s ex-wife died trag­i­cally a few years later.

Our col­lege-ed­u­cated ’kids’ are now all in their 40s, mar­ried, and all with ex­cel­lent jobs and chil­dren of their own.

They live in dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the coun­try but have stayed con­nected un­til a year ago when our old­est daugh­ter be­gan a mean-spir­ited tirade cat­a­loging all the ways my hus­band and I had wronged her over the years.

It started abruptly af­ter we had to re­turn one day early from our grand­daugh­ter’s col­lege grad­u­a­tion for an el­derly friend’s fu­neral.

Our daugh­ter ac­cused us of demon­strat­ing by that that ’some old dead guy’ was more im­por­tant than her fam­ily. Her neg­a­tivism es­ca­lated. Her vit­riol was in writ­ten form (emails and let­ters) and on Face­book.

I stopped con­nect­ing with her on Face­book be­cause of her dis­re­spect­ful pub­lic posts, then she un­friended her dad.

We are told that her parental neg­a­tivism con­tin­ues on­line.

At my ac­tive en­cour­age­ment, our son and his dad flew across coun­try to talk and lis­ten, in an ef­fort to neu­tral­ize her at­ti­tude. It was not suc­cess­ful. She would not al­low my hus­band to see his 10-year-old grand­son dur­ing that visit.

My hus­band is ab­so­lutely done with try­ing and be­lieves she is re­play­ing a “gen­er­a­tional mean­ness” ex­hib­ited by her birth mother and grand­mother. Her brother tries to stay con­nected with her. I think we should make a more cre­ative at­tempt to ad­dress her at­ti­tude to­ward us. She needs pro­fes­sional coun­sel­ing. How should we ap­proach this? — An Ag­ing Stepmother

Dear Stepmother: I don’t know what “gen­er­a­tional mean­ness” is, but I do know what nar­cis­sism is.

Here are some quotes from an ar­ti­cle in Psy­chol­ogy To­day de­scrib­ing a nar­cis­sist: “A cross sec­tion of the nar­cis­sist’s ego will re­veal high lev­els of self-es­teem, grandios­ity, self-fo­cus, and self­im­por­tance . ... Nar­cis­sists’ lan­guage and de­meanor is of­ten geared to­ward one ob­jec­tive: to main­tain power in an in­ter­ac­tion.”

Does this de­scribe your daugh­ter? I am a layper­son and I can­not di­ag­nose your daugh­ter (or any­one) with a psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­der. But if she has this, she will thrive on pun­ish­ing peo­ple close to her.

Any com­mu­ni­ca­tion with your daugh­ter should fo­cus on times when she be­haved well, and state that you miss hav­ing her in the fold. Keep it very sim­ple. You could sug­gest pro­fes­sional help, but ex­pect this to trig­ger more rage from her. Keep your door open for a re­la­tion­ship in the fu­ture, but don’t let her dom­i­nate and pun­ish you now.

Dear Amy: I have been with my boyfriend for five years now, and we have re­cently been dis­cussing get­ting mar­ried. We’re talk­ing about the wed­ding and all that good stuff.

He has a very large and great group of friends, and many of them would be grooms­men.

My ques­tion is, I have three brothers who I am very close to. They have taken a lit­tle longer to be close with my boyfriend.

What is the ap­pro­pri­ate de­ci­sion on mak­ing my brothers a part of his bridal party as grooms­men? — Cu­ri­ous

Dear Cu­ri­ous: There is no one an­swer to the some­times del­i­cate ques­tion of who should be in the wed­ding party. Ask­ing all three brothers to be grooms­men would be one way to build a closer re­la­tion­ship to your guy, but you should not pres­sure him to do this.

Re­mem­ber, too, that it is not nec­es­sary for the bride and groom to have the ex­act same num­ber of at­ten­dants. How­ever, if you’re open to this sort of thing, you may ask your brothers to stand with you — as your at­ten­dants.

Aside from be­ing of­fi­cial grooms­men dur­ing the wed­ding, your brothers could also serve as ush­ers for all of your guests, re­liev­ing grooms­men of this duty.

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