Ask Amy

Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 12:00am

DEAR AMY: I am a 43-year-old with a 13-year-old daughter from my first marriage.

I currently have custody of my daughter pending the outcome of a Child Protective Services investigation in which my daughter has accused her stepfather of sexual abuse.

We are going through the courts and I expect to be granted full custody.

I have been divorced from her mother since 2001 and have been remarried for five awesome years to a great woman who has a 21-year-old daughter. My daughter and wife have always gotten along well, and my wife seemed to adore her.

My daughter has now lived with us for three weeks.

My wife has given her a very cold reception and accused her of lying about the sexual assault. My wife and I have been arguing and it's been awful.

Now my daughter says she knows she is not wanted and has repeatedly asked to live with her grandparents.

I am trying to see my wife's side. She says I knew she didn't want any more kids and wasn't prepared to raise someone else's child.

I told her I am doing what any father would do.

My wife hasn't spoken to my daughter in over a week.

I think our next major discussion will be divorce proceedings, but should we try to stay together?

— Somewhere in Virginia

Your family needs professional intervention immediately. There is a possibility that you and your wife could work this out, but given her extreme behavior and complete selfishness regarding your daughter, I have doubts.

There aren't three sides to this story — there is only one, and that is the story of a child struggling and the adults who must try to help her.

I give you credit for working so hard to do the right thing. Unfortunately, the atmosphere in your own home is toxic; in my view, your daughter should stay with her grandparents for now — or your wife should leave the home, temporarily.

You should not have your girl in the home as long as your wife is hostile, accusatory and neglectful.

Your daughter should receive regular, specialized individual counseling and you and your wife should go together.

DEAR AMY: One of my co-workers has been shoveling loads of crap about another of my co-workers, who is a hard worker and great employee.

I make nice with the gossiper, but wouldn't trust him with the care of my pencil.

He has basically been saying that she's a Negative Nancy and that he's sorry she was ever hired.

He blabbed a lot of this stuff last evening at a happy hour to many of our co-workers, including her boss.

I think he feels extremely threatened because she outworks him by 500 percent.

Should I tell her or keep my mouth shut?

— Perturbed

Trash talkers thrive when those who could and should stop them keep silent. You should have stopped him during his happy hour rant.

Because you've been "making nice" with this gossiper, you have some leverage.

The next time Mr. Blowhard puts down your co-worker, speak up.

Say, "I think that's out of line and unfair, Bud, and I wish you'd give it a rest."

DEAR AMY: I am a mom and I am trying to teach my children good manners.

When we are walking into a building and there is an elderly woman either coming or going, I always tell my children, "Let's hold the door for this young lady."

I do it with a smile and I usually get a smile back.

But since you seem to feel that I am being patronizing for using the term "young lady," I would like to have a polite/kind general term for an elderly woman.

— Denise

DEAR DENISE: I love that you are teaching your children such good manners. Let's focus on that.

However, because you asked, when you're asking your children to hold the door for me, you're welcome to refer to me as a "woman," "lady" or "person."

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