Ask Amy

Monday, March 4, 2013 at 8:05pm

DEAR AMY: My dad and I have a mostly estranged relationship. He was absent most of my life, and now we only communicate through an occasional text message. He is now married to wife No. 3, and up until a few months ago she seemed like a nice enough person — until he revealed that she had an affair and at 46 became pregnant with another man's baby.

My father and she separated but have now reconciled and have decided to raise this baby together (my dad is 63), along with the man she had the affair with. I told him I respected his personal decision. His wife recently asked to list me on Facebook as family, and I had such a negative reaction to it I blocked her completely. I only met her once years ago and have no personal connection to her.

I would like to visit my dad with my children. They have asked about him and despite the lack of relationship, I still love him and would like him to know his grandchildren. However, I really don't want anything to do with her or this child. I don't want to have to explain the whole thing to my kids, adding to the already messy family dynamic.

I think this will offend my dad, as he takes his marriage vows very seriously from a religious perspective. (He annulled the marriage from my mother and made his current wife get two annulments before they could marry.)

Am I out of line to ask to only see him when I visit?

— Daughter

DEAR DAUGHTER: Your father can't take marriage vows all that seriously if he is on his third marriage, but regardless — he is embracing the existence of this child and is helping to raise it, which is the right thing to do, especially seeing as how the child's mother is his wife.

So you come from a messed-up family. Join the club.

You are responding to the confusion and complication by essentially trying to erase an entire person — a child who has done nothing to deserve being shunned or denied by you or anyone else. The child does have a biological father and it also seems right for this man to have a hand in raising the child.

You should be truthful with your children, despite how painful or embarrassing this is for you. You can certainly ask to see your father alone, but don't be surprised if he doesn't agree to this condition.

DEAR AMY: I am a teenager. I have a friend, "Hattie," who is going through a rough time at home. Her brother has dropped out of college, and he is back at home, dealing drugs instead of getting a job. Hattie told me, but she is in denial.

Should I report him to the police? I am afraid that he will harm her. A few days ago he had a terrible argument with his mom, and it got violent. Hattie isn't a weakling, but she is physically smaller and mentally insecure. But if I do rat him out, will my friendship with Hattie be over? Will I later regret it?

— Good Friend

DEAR FRIEND: What you can offer your friend is perspective — and a very supportive friendship.

I agree with you that this situation sounds volatile and frightening. You should talk with your parents or another trusted adult about the best course of action, including perhaps inviting her to stay with you. Police will not always leap into a situation based on what a third party reports but you could also try to get advice from them about what Hattie should do.

DEAR AMY: "Worried Friend" asked if she should send a card to her friend who was in the hospital for an attempted suicide. Your response was right-on.

I still have the bow from the food basket that my co-workers sent when I went into treatment for alcoholism 21 years ago. My son was in a hospital for depression, and the letter that his best friend sent him was the best medicine he received at the time.

— Grateful

DEAR GRATEFUL: Thank you so much for sharing your personal perspective.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.

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