“Trying to maintain family harmony,” he replies

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know if they’ve followed the advice and how they’re doing it now. Today we hear “Trying to Keep the Family Harmony”, which he wrote six years ago (!) And whose letter I reposted yesterday on Facebook. She noticed this link and decided to write with an update.

In her original letter, she explained that her stepdaughter had recently left her husband and moved in with another man, relinquishing her children’s custody rights to her husband. The LW wanted advice on whether or not to disobey the son-in-law on the family vacation they had planned before the separation. She and her husband disagreed on how to proceed, especially considering the extent to which they wanted to maintain a strong connection with the person who would be the primary caregiver and the main point of access for their grandchildren. A lot has happened in the last six years and the pandemic has played an important role in the way everyone in this family is doing it today. LW update below:

Hi Wendy!

How surprised I was to see my letter posted on your Facebook page. I wrote about how we started a “tradition” of going to Florida every spring with our adult children and grandchildren. My stepdaughter had decided to end her marriage, but our son-in-law still wanted to come on vacation.

It turned out that she joined us because Marie changed her mind and wanted her to join us. It was inflexible that the marriage was over, but she wanted to remain a good friend of her husband. It turned out to be a fabulous holiday as everyone was happy to be together. Our family holiday tradition continued for several years and worked well. Our son-in-law always accompanied us because we have a great relationship with him. The grandchildren were always happy to have them all together.

For the past 5 years, Marie and her husband have been in a new / off relationship. It was awful for everyone. Marie came in and out of the house. He had many different relationships. Everyone else in the family was confused, as no one could determine whether he was finished or not. The children fought hard. Marie suffered from drug addiction and alcohol abuse. As parents / grandparents we did everything we could to support / help (maybe enable?). And then something happened that I don’t know (and probably just as well), but it caused Marie to be forced by Family and Child Services to receive counseling. The advice was very effective. She cleaned up and developed parenting skills that greatly improved her life and especially the lives of the children.

And then he hit the covid. Although the covid has been a horrible thing all over the world, in Marie’s world it caused continuous quarantines when the children came and went between the houses of the mother and the father. They solved the problem by agreeing that Marie move in with her ex. They thought it would be just a few weeks. Ha! That was over two years ago. In that time they have reconciled and are now a close and loving family.

Our son-in-law never gave up and Marie finally got the help she needed. While I wouldn’t recommend the wild journey of the years between rupture and reconciliation, it worked.

And no more family vacations in Florida. They initially stopped with the arrival of the covid. Now I don’t know if we will ever go back because of the political situation. The boys are busy with hockey and we are spending the holidays on the slopes! And loving it!

I am so glad to hear this positive update and that your family has found a silver dot in this terrible pandemic. Thank you so much for the update!

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If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post and let me know if you’ve followed the advice and how you are now.
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