- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My daughter is getting married in September. In her defense, I think she is marrying a great man who so far is being very good to her. My daughter has one child and is five months pregnant with her fiance’s child. They have been living together for almost two years. She is 27 years old, and her father and I have tried to stay out of her business.

My daughter is angry, especially at her father and me, because we refuse to pay for an elaborate wedding that is going to cost about $7,000. We told her we would help, but she needs to scale down the expenses. She has refused. She says she deserves the wedding of her dreams. Are we wrong for refusing? I would hate to ruin my relationship with my daughter.

- Daughter’s Wedding Blues

Dear Blues,

No way! Your daughter has one child, is pregnant and has been playing house with her fiance for almost two years. Why should you invest in a wedding at all for her, let alone spend $7,000 for one? If you have that kind of money to spare, invest it in a college fund for your grandchildren.

Your daughter wants the wedding of her dreams. Tell her she’s wide awake, and this is her reality. Tell her no, and stick to it!

Hi, Ms. Vicki,

Should I go to my fiance’s family reunion with him next month? His mother doesn’t seem to like me at all. I can barely get a hello from the woman, and I have done nothing but present myself in the most respectful manner. I have a feeling she does not like me because I have a son from a previous relationship.

I love my son, and I don’t owe anyone any explanation about him. He is a beautiful little boy who is smart and bright, and I love and adore him. My fiance loves him, too. However, his mother doesn’t act as if she likes me or my son.

I have been in her company when her other grandchildren are around. She acts as if she does not want to interact with my son. One time she actually took the children out for ice cream and did not take my son with them. I was livid because my fiance did nothing about it.

You have to understand, Ms. Vicki, my fiance is the only son in the family, and he is the baby. He can do no wrong. He is the best thing since authentic Mexican cuisine, and there is no way around it. He was the first one to go to a prestigious university and to become an officer. Even though I’m college-educated and come from a good family, too, I just don’t measure up.

She speaks to me in rudely and is condescending. In my opinion, she mistreats me and my son. Now my fiance wants us to accompany him to their family reunion. Do you think we should go?

- Upcoming Reunion

Dear Reunion,

I think you have a responsibility to make sure your son is in a healthy and nurturing place. It’s not conducive to his well-being for the both of you to be in a place where you are obviously not wanted. It’s also not good for his self-esteem or self-worth to see other children treated better and with more affection than he is.

I would not go to the family reunion. Let your fiance go and enjoy himself with his family. You have nothing to prove to them. Your first responsibility is to your son. If you decide to go, you are an adult, and you can take care of yourself, but, again, I wish you wouldn’t.

Continue to work on your relationship with your fiance without making him feel he needs to choose between you and his mother. Don’t set a firm wedding date at this time. There are many issues that should be addressed with premarital counseling, which I highly recommend. It sounds as if you’re at risk for many relationship and marital problems should this continue.

Reader responses:

Dear Ms. Vicki: What an amazing licensed clinical social worker you are. You give straightforward, practical, helpful and compassionate advice. I think you are one of the best. Keep up the good work.

- Marsha Nickels

Dear Ms. Vicki: As a fellow social worker, I was appalled and embarrassed to read your column in The Washington Times on July 12. Although I fully agree with you that underage children should not be left unattended, I do not agree with your first level of suggested “intervention.” Yes, the police may need to be contacted, but it may be more helpful and productive for a neighbor to walk over and check in with her struggling street mate.

The advice seeker is aware of the terribly stressful and potentially financially difficult situation of her neighbor. Instead of calling the police, why not offer a helping hand? This may be in the form of baby-sitting for a few hours or getting her in touch with community, church or other local resources. Considering that the struggling neighbor is the spouse of a currently deployed military person, an excellent example would be the Army’s Family Readiness Groups (www.armyfrg.org/skins/frg/home.aspx?AllowSSL=true).

Each division of the military has its own network of support to family members. This may include linking family with deployment information or local service providers to assist with social problems. As a licensed clinical social worker and military spouse yourself, you should be familiar with this resource.

- Stacy D. Schanno, master of social work, licensed social worker

Dear Ms. Vicki: I’m not a military spouse, but I would like to help one of your readers. Please tell “Happy to Stay Home” about MOMS Club International. Find a local chapter at momsclub.org. This is a nonprofit social and support group of mothers who choose to stay home. There are more than 2,000 chapters in the U.S. and some in other countries. A typical chapter charges $20 to $30 a year for dues and meets once a month for general business and maybe to hear a speaker. There are activities for the members and their children according to the interests of the members. Children are welcome at all meetings and activities.

I was a member for 10 years. Our chapter’s interest groups included recipe sharing, financial planning, a baby-sitting co-op, walking for health (with strollers), crafts and play groups. We scheduled outings at playgrounds, the zoo, the aquarium, nature centers, holiday parties (New Year’s happened at noon), pizza restaurants, the county fair, etc. My youngest child is 10 years old, and I still have good friends from this group.

- Debbie Johnson, Montgomery Village

Dear Ms. Vicki: Hi, I am not in the military and have never been. Nevertheless, I read your column in The Washington Times, and I appreciate the answers you give. I also appreciate your husband’s and your service to this country. Keep up the good work!

- Ronald Johnson

Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at dearmsvicki@yahoo.com.

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