Dear Abby: My father considers himself a deeply religious man. He believes that anyone who doesn’t conform to his beliefs is going to hell. He told my gay sister she is going to hell. At my brother’s wake and celebration of life, he announced to everyone that my brother was going to hell because he was an atheist. He also criticized the arrangements, even though they were exactly what my brother requested. I pulled him aside and asked him to quit saying these things. He refused and declared, “This conversation is over!”
The next morning, the family voted unanimously to ask him to leave. Being the eldest, I was “elected” to deliver the news to him. He and my stepmother didn’t take it well and both said a lot of terrible things. Now they refuse to accept that the whole family agreed to it, and they blame me for it.
Any ideas on how to repair the damage? My stepmother suggested I lie and say it was just me and I am sorry. Neither is true. Maybe it’s best I remain estranged from my father, and he can have normal relations with the rest of the family?
— Truth Teller in Georgia
Dear Truth Teller: I disagree with your stepmother. Do not lie about why your father and his wife were asked to leave. Your siblings need to step forward and make plain that the vote was unanimous. If your father and stepmother choose to isolate themselves after that, you all will be better off.
Dear Abby: I have been married to my husband for nearly six years. We have a very good relationship and have three grown adult children between us. Four years ago, my daughter and his daughter-in-law had children — I will call them “Timmy” and “Jenny.”
My grandson Timmy is autistic, but doing well with speech therapy and special education (preschool). He has his challenges, but we are supportive and encouraging. Jenny is and always has been a chatterbox. She was a good little girl until she turned 4. Her parents buy her anything and everything she wants, and she’s allowed to run the show.
Recently, we watched her overnight, and I was upset with her for calling my husband an old, fat man and a punk, in addition to trying to manipulate us as she does her parents. Discipline to curb her smart mouth is frowned upon, and laughed off. My husband has spoken to his son about this twice. It has changed nothing. I don’t feel it’s my place to scold and discipline, but if she’s in my home, I think she must behave respectfully. Abby, please help with any advice.
— Frustrated Nana in Washington
Dear Nana: That little girl is 4. By failing to teach their daughter consideration for the feelings of others, your husband’s son and daughter-in-law are doing Jenny a disservice. By the time she’s 6, she’ll be as welcome as a polecat at a picnic. You have every right to make and enforce the rules for what goes on in your home. Jenny should not be permitted to call your husband (or anyone, for that matter) nasty names, and unless she apologizes, you should not babysit her.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com.