DEAR ABBY: Twenty years ago, I had a falling-out with my siblings and my mother.
I was in an emotionally and physically abusive marriage. They wanted me to leave, but after seven years of his brainwashing, I was convinced that I was worthless, that no one cared about me but him and that I would end up on the street alone and unable to live without him.
My siblings invited me out to visit them and proceeded to browbeat me into leaving him. After three nights of six-hour sessions of being berated and hearing I was a terrible mother for staying with him, it was almost a relief to go home to my husband. At least there I expected it.
Long story short, I haven’t spoken to my family in 20 years. I escaped that marriage five years ago, and my mother and I slowly began rebuilding a relationship over Facebook. I’m in Michigan, and she was in New York. Three months ago, she passed away.
One of my siblings unfriended me and my daughter from my mother’s Facebook before they posted that she passed away. I heard the news from one of my friends who was also FB friends with my mother.
Someone I know is saying I should reach out to my siblings and try to rebuild a relationship. What are your thoughts?
LIKE AN ONLY CHILD
DEAR LIKE: That your siblings would unfriend you and your daughter from your mother’s Facebook page so you wouldn’t know she was gone was cruel, unnecessary and shameful.
If you want to reach out to your siblings, by all means do so, but before you do that, please talk with a licensed mental health professional or your religious adviser, if you have one.
You have suffered much pain and rejection from your abusive husband, and you may encounter more from your siblings, so before you approach them, be prepared.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, “Paul,” and I have been together for 18 months. We are both divorced and each have two children. Mine are in college. His are in elementary and middle school. They stay overnight with him on the weekends.
When they are there, I go home and sleep at my place. Over the last few months, Paul has asked me to stay the night when they are there; however, he wants me to sleep on the couch because they sleep in the bed with him.
A few weeks ago, he announced, “I’m going to talk to them about you and me sleeping in my bed together and see if they are OK with that.” Since then, I have heard nothing, so I continue going to my own place at night.
My questions are: Is it acceptable for children to sleep in the same bed with their parent? And, is it acceptable for children to decide if Paul and I sleep together?
CONFUSED IN KANSAS
DEAR CONFUSED: The answers to your questions are “yes,” and “no.”
In some cultures, it is common for families to share the same sleeping accommodations, including a family bed. In our culture, it is less common but not unheard of, particularly with kids much younger than his.
As to your second question, Paul may be uncomfortable raising the subject with his children, or they may have told him they like the status quo and he hasn’t communicated that to you. But they are not the ones who should make that decision. As the adult in the family, that privilege should be his. And after 18 months together, you should be comfortable enough to ask him anything.