Special-needs daughter gets little notice from dad's family

DEAR ABBY: A year ago, I ended a turbulent five-year relationship with my boyfriend, “Alex,” that resulted in a special-needs child. Alex is not living in reality when it comes to our daughter’s disabilities, and his family is not present in her life.

Our daughter, “Meghan,” spent months in the hospital before she was healthy enough to come home, and Alex’s family visited only a few times. I have tried to resolve the issues with Alex’s family so our daughter can have a relationship with them, but it is still one-sided. Meghan’s paternal family will send a present for her birthday or Christmas, but they spend no time with her. They have other grandchildren in other states that his mother drives hours to see, but she won’t drive five minutes to see my daughter.

I’d like to start rejecting the gifts they send Meghan with a note explaining why. I find it disturbing that they’ll spend money on my child, but are unwilling to spend time with her. I feel the gifts are a payoff. I don’t want Meghan to feel like the odd man out when she’s old enough to realize how she is treated compared to the other grandchildren. Abby, what are your thoughts? — END OF MY ROPE

DEAR END OF MY ROPE: I hate to see you sever your already tenuous ties with Meghan’s paternal family. Their behavior toward her may have something to do with the fact that she has disabilities, or the “turbulence” of your five-year relationship with their son.

If they would consent to it, I would recommend family counseling for all of you. However, if they won’t, and because you feel that their lack of involvement in Meghan’s life will eventually become hurtful to her, you are within your rights to reject their gifts and find more support for her within your own family.

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DEAR ABBY: My son tells me no one wants to hang out with him at the small community college he attends. He is a handsome, loving, polite young man who earned the citizenship award three years in a row in elementary school. His sister and I were discussing that maybe he is being TOO polite and it could turn people off. No one likes the “nice guy.” Do you have any advice I can give him? — RAISED A GOOD BOY

DEAR RAISED A GOOD BOY: I disagree with your statement that no one likes a nice guy. Nice people like nice people. From this distance, I am unable to guess what your son’s problem might be.

However, it is telling that you are seeking advice about his social problems, not him. The best advice you could convey to your son would be to talk about this with a counselor at school. Together, they may be able to figure out why he has trouble fitting in. You should also encourage him to get involved in activities, which should widen his circle of acquaintances.

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Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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