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A FAMILY DIVIDED

Dear Ann Landers: I have been divorced for eight years. My ex-husband moved out of the state after the divorce, and I have not seen him since. We have a wonderful son who is now 9 years old. I am currently married to a terrific man who has raised my son since he was 2 years old.

My ex-father-in-law, whom I have never met, wants me to put my son on a plane and fly him halfway across the country to visit a family neither my son nor I know. They send him birthday and Christmas gifts, but have never made any effort to see him. They have never once called to talk to him on the phone. I have invited them to visit, but they say they are too old to make the trip.

I do not want to send my son alone on a plane to stay with strangers. If they want to see their grandson, I think they should find a way to come here. What do you say, Ann?

-- Sara in Ventura, Calif.
Dear Ventura: I say, even though your ex-husband's parents have not shown much interest in visiting your son, you should not try to punish them for your failed marriage.

Take the high road, and send your son to see his grandparents. Call your ex-in-laws, and have them speak to your son on the telephone so he can become more familiar with them. Prepare him in advance for what to expect, and keep the visit short -- no more than a long weekend. Airline personnel do an excellent job of helping children who travel alone.

If you truly believe your son is not capable of handling the trip, please consider going with him. His grandparents are not getting any younger, and there will not be many more opportunities for him to have a relationship with them. In years to come, you'll be glad you did.

Kitchen wisdom

Dear Ann Landers: I read this in the Dick E. Bird News, and it made me laugh. We can all use a good laugh these days. I hope you'll print it.

-- Chicago Reader
Dear Reader: I laughed, too! Thanks for sending it on. Here it is:

If a messy kitchen is a happy kitchen, my kitchen is delirious.

No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes.

A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.

Help keep the kitchen clean -- eat out.

Housework, done properly, can kill you.

If we are what we eat, then I'm easy, fast and cheap.

A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.

Thou shalt not weigh more than thy refrigerator.

Countless numbers of people have eaten in this kitchen and gone on to lead normal lives.

A husband is someone who takes out the trash and tries to give the impression that he just cleaned the whole house.

My next home will have no kitchen -- just vending machines.

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