Monday, July 27, 2015

Dear Abby advises bride to omit her father from wedding festivities...

I think Dear Abby has gone downhill since the death of the original Abby.  I still read her column sometimes, though.  Sometimes, the letters people send give me some food for thought.

Today's column includes a letter written by a 32 year old woman who is getting married.  Her biological father is a Spanish man who was not involved in her life until she was 20 years old.  She found him and his wife while studying in Spain.  She has kept in touch with her bio father, although she was legally adopted by her mother's now ex-husband.

The letter writer wishes to invite her father and his wife to her wedding.  Unfortunately, her mother is against the idea because she claims bio dad showed no interest in knowing or financially supporting his daughter when she was growing up.  Bio dad has no animosity toward the letter writer's mother and has never been to the United States.  The letter writer's mother says that she has no business inviting her bio dad to the wedding.  She doesn't want to see him and is upset that her daughter is considering inviting him.  So letter writer wants to know what to do.

Not surprisingly, Dear Abby says letter writer shouldn't invite her bio dad because it will upset her mother.  She says if bio dad hasn't "earned" the right to be at the wedding, he shouldn't be invited.  Instead, letter writer should entertain him at a later date.

Naturally, I disagree with Abby on this one.  I checked the comments and was surprised to see that many others also agreed with me that Abby is wrong.

First off, it's not like this guy just popped back into his daughter's life.  She was interested in him and found him herself.  Apparently, he willingly met her and they struck up a relationship.  They have been communicating for twelve years.  While he wasn't around when she was a child, there may have been very good reasons for that.  He lived halfway around the world and it wasn't during a time when communication was as easy as it is now.  Back in those days, to make contact with someone in another country, you had to make expensive phone calls involving different time zones, take expensive flights abroad, or send letters that could take weeks to arrive.  It would have been difficult for this man to be involved with his daughter's upbringing, unless he just uprooted himself and moved to the United States.  That's easier said than done for a lot of people.  It might have been easier for the mother to move to Spain.

Secondly, it doesn't sound like this guy is a bad person.  She doesn't mention him showing up, pretending to remorseful while looking for favors or money.  It sounds like they managed to develop a relationship based on something other than what they could do for each other.  That's a rare and beautiful thing.

Thirdly, unless Mom is footing the bill for the entire celebration, it's not up to her who should be invited.  A wedding is about the people getting married.  Sure, it would be best not to upset Mom if that can be avoided.  But Mom apparently had casual sex with a Spanish man in a country not usually her home.  She ended up getting pregnant.  I can only guess that she chose to have sex; it wasn't a rape.

I would hope that someone old enough to be having sex while traveling in Spain knows how babies are made.  She is partially responsible for the fact that this man fathered her daughter.  If she loves her daughter, she should be somewhat grateful for that contribution, even if he really should have done more to support her.  Hell, if the man hadn't fathered her and was simply a good friend (which is what he now is, legally speaking), would mom be upset about the invitation?  Is she really upset that this Spanish man gave her an apparently sensitive and kind-hearted daughter to love?  She wouldn't have her daughter if not for him, even if he didn't raise her.  And mom managed to replace bio dad with her now ex husband, anyway.  

We also don't know when or if mom told the guy about the baby and what options she gave him to stay involved with their daughter.  It's easy for mom to say that he knocked her up and left her high and dry.  That may even be the truth.  However, it can also be a way to justify punishing the father for a nasty breakup.  God knows, Bill's kids think he abandoned them, even though he actually was around to change their diapers and pay their bills.  

Bottom line, I think Abby's advice was wrong in this case.  It's admirable that the daughter is thinking of her mother's feelings.  I think it's even more admirable that she's thinking of her father's feelings and wants to include him.  She is a grown woman and it's HER wedding.  She should have the right to invite whomever she pleases, as well as the right to decide who has and who has not earned the right to be there.  I think if her mother has a problem with that, she should suck it up and get over it.  After all, she is the reason bio dad is even in the picture.  She could have kept her legs closed and chosen to have a baby with someone who would be around to help her raise the child.  I think she should be grateful that the guy was just absent, rather than a complete psycho.

Sorry to be so crass in putting it that way, but I really do strongly believe that people need to be much more careful about the people with whom they choose to have sex.  Sexual intercourse can lead to pregnancy, even when birth control is used.  Granted.... Spanish dad also should have closed his legs, but that's all water under the bridge now.  They created a child and now she's getting married.  It sounds like the letter writer is a very empathetic person.  Mom should take a lesson from her daughter and try some empathy.  The letter writer has the right to celebrate her marriage with whomever she chooses.  Her mother should be the bigger person and get over herself.

I feel fortunate that this is an issue that will never affect me.  


  1. i could not agree with you any more strongly than I do. It's the bride's day, not her mother's., and it's not as thugh her mother and adoptove father are to be shoved to the back pew or the bottowm feeder's table where those who failed to RSVP get to sit.

    i liked Ann better than Abby to begin with, but I don't think Jeanne Phillips is doing her late mother's column justice even though I found it weaker than the Ann landers column even when Pauline Phillips was writing it. You're right that the letters are thught provoking, but when someone reads one of the letters aloud at the breakfast table, we all almost always disagree with jeanne phillips' advice. I just don't think she's a good advice columnist.

    Ann's daughter, Margo Howard, wrote columns of her own ffor Slate and other online publications. I liked Margo's columns. I also read a couple of Margo's books. I find Margo as a writer to be very relatable and compelling.

    margo isn't shy about dishing family dirt. there was a well-known and well-documented on-again/off-again feud between "Ann' and "Abby." i had no dog in that fight, being neither related nor acquainted to any of them, but I found "Ann's" side of the story as told by Margo to be more credible.

    I like Carolyn Hax OK as an advice columnist, and I also like someone named amy something -or-other whose "Ask Amy" column appears in a local paper. I'm pretty sure Margo Howard has retired, but I really liked reading her columns. From what my mom said, Ann Landers was the best of the lot.and had the ability to change with the times.

    i've just never been impressed with Jeanne Phillips, though I read whatever advice columns are available, including hers.

    You would be a good advice columnist. With your post-military connections, maybe you could get a try-out gig in some armed forces paper.

    1. Thanks Alexis. I think a lot of military folks might find me too liberal for their liking. On the other hand, some of them could probably use a little more left leaning perspective.

      I think in this incidence, Jeanne Phillips may have been catering to the people who read her columns, who are usually women. Women usually side with mothers over fathers.

    2. once a person who was a lounge pianist by trade wrote in to complain that people wanted her to converse while she was playing, and she lacked the ability to do that, so she had slips of paper where people could write down requests of songs. Jeanne phillips more or less accused her of being a substandard musician because she could not carry one a conversation while she was playing.

      I can carry on a very limited one. If I go into a very simplified mode of what I I'm playing, i caould probably carry on an ordinary conversation. Not everyone, however, can do this. jeanne Phillips went on to say that not only can many people talk when playing the piano; they can also SING while accompanying themselves. How clueless is this woman. everyone I know who plays the piano can sing while playing the piano. The skills are directly related to one another. the averagw pianist cannot necessarily sing "The Star=Spangled Banner" while playing some aria from Bach's Requiem, but as fafr as singing and playing the same song, most can do it. Of course if the person is a lousy singer, he'll still be a lousy singer, or vice cersa.

      Carrying on a conversation while playing the piano is nothing like singing a song while playing along, and Jeanne Phillips totally advertised her ignorance by using that analogy. It's about like expecting a person to run at a rapid pace while completing a crossword puzzlle with tiny squares, and then when the person says he or she cannot do both tasks simultaneously, responding to them with, "I don't know what your problem is. not only is it common to be able to run while completing a crosswords puzzle; some people can actually run while dribbling a basketball. You must be some sort of a loset if you can't even run while using a pen to fll in the squares on a crossword puzzle." Jeanne phillips isn't sensible enough to be an effective advice columnist.

      Serious you should find a publication and start a column of your own. I would volunteer to offer a young adult perspective when you felt one was needed.

      My friend Becca and I had considered co-authoring an advice columnist with a liberal, moderate, and conservative viewpoints of youg adults. we couldn't decided what either of us were, which made it difficult to decided who else we needed. I see her as a conservative and myself as a moderate. she sees herself as a moderate and sees me as a liberal. I think most of us probably tend to see ourselves as being middle-of-the-road. Perhaps I am liberal, but not many true liberals haven't made it past first base and haven't consumed anything stronger than guiness by the age of 20 years, seven months. It's all inperspective. Our capacity to give advice would be limited to kids and undergrads, anyway, as a person lacks the background to provide solid advice to those in situations as far beyond what the advisers have ever persnoally experienced as becca and i would be.

      You could do this, though. Let's start a campaign to replace jeanne Phillips' syndicated spots with a column by you.

      I'm babbling a bit because I'm so thrilled to be finished with "Bye Bye birdie" that I'm high on fresh air. I don't work tomorrow because scott wanted me to take a day off after "Bye Bye Birdie." I'm enjoying my own room. I like my room at jillian's house, too, buy my room is incomparable.

  2. That's interesting about Jeanne Phillips possibly catering to her audience. You're probably right, but I would consider that a lack of integrity on her part if such was the case.

    1. Well, if you think about it, her column exists because people read it. If she doesn't cater to the masses somehow, her column is worthless. It's part of what sells papers, right? So it makes sense that she'd tailor her responses to please the people who read her columns.

  3. If it were a really good column, people would read it because it made them think, whether they agreed or not. I don't expect to agree with everything a columnist writes, but if it's decently written and there's rationale behind what he or she is saying, i'll continue to read. I just don't think her column is either well-thought-out or well written. And what's the point of reading only things that reinforce what one already believes?

    (I recognize I'm preaching to the choir here in this regard.)

    Her mother's column took the quick shot at someone often rather than offering a well-thought-out answer, and also was not as well-researched as was her aunt's.


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