Wedding Woes

You protect your daughter from the toxicity.

Dear Prudence,

I am a bisexual man who recently got engaged to my wonderful boyfriend, “Pete.” Before that I was married to my high school girlfriend, “Kate.” We got married after an accidental pregnancy and faced enormous family pressure. (Both our families are evangelical Christians.) We both loved our daughter, but the marriage was never happy, and we divorced when she was 4. Now we’re great friends and co-parents, and our daughter is 14. Both Kate and I like each other’s partners. Everything should be great, but both Kate’s family and mine are behaving outrageously. Obviously they handled my coming out as bisexual after the divorce very badly, but we’d at least settled into a frosty silence on the subject, which was fine by me since I only see them a few times a year.

Now that I’m engaged, all bets are off. My parents received the news coldly and immediately wanted to know if I understood how “tacky” it would be to have a big second wedding. We do want to have a big wedding! My parents and sisters have started spamming me almost daily with emails and Facebook messages linking to articles with titles like “Top 10 Tacky Wedding Behaviors” and “How to Have a Second Wedding With Class.” My former in-laws got angry with my daughter for being excited about our wedding and told her it wasn’t a “real wedding” and she shouldn’t attend. Kate has roundly scolded them for it and isn’t sure she wants to speak to them again. Our daughter doesn’t want to see any of her grandparents.

I just feel terrible. I have tried for so long to keep the peace with my complicated extended family. My fiancé has met them exactly once and is not keen to repeat the experience. Now I am wondering if it would be OK to just cut them all off or if that would be a bad thing for my daughter. I’ve always encouraged her to have an independent relationship with her grandparents, whatever my problems with them may be. I’m scared to send her to see my parents next week. How should I handle these people, and what’s the best thing to do for my daughter?

—Is It Tacky?

Re: You protect your daughter from the toxicity.

  • Toxic family.
    Kudos to "Kate" for scolding her family.

    Protect the child. This family is awful :(
  • Talk to your daughter.   Ask her how she's feeling and what she wants to do next week.

    Based on her response that also tells you whether or not you are adding that to your conversation with your parents.   Tell them that you are who you are.   They're allowed to have their feelings and what you want them to stop doing is the non-stop opinion parade.   It's noted and now time to move on. 

    If you want to have a big wedding, plan it without their input and treat them as guests who you'd love to attend.   Should they be there then have flowers available and a parents table set.   If they decline the invitation then move on.  

    The priority here is your daughter and if she is not comfortable with things then you can tell your parents that she's decided to postpone her visit indefinitely. 
  • edited February 6
    Your daughter is old enough to decide who she does and does not want in her life. Support her and help her enforce whatever decision she makes. 

    ETA: Have whatever type of wedding you want and don’t tell them anything about the details. I’d also start blocking them on email and social media. 
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    I would cut them off, and let the daughter decide what she wants to do. It doesn't sound like she wants to see them now, so that's that. If she changes her mind or wants to change her relationship with them in the future, that's up to her. She's 14 and old enough to see what's really happening and make some decisions for herself. 
  • Of course your daughter doesn't want to see her grandparents - you're her dad, she loves you, and she doesn't want to spend time with people who belittle and hurt you. 

    Only you can decide if you are ready to cut off contact with your family, though I would say you have every right to given how they've treated you. As for your daughter, she's old enough to decide for herself whether she feels comfortable seeing these people or not. Let her make that choice. 

  • On the bright side, I loved reading about how supportive his ex-wife is.  Including ripping her parents a new one for their horrible words and attitude.

    His parents and sister are now causing him extra stress and detracting from his happiness in what should be a joyful time.  I think he needs to do what feels right for himself.  I'd understand, either way, if he would or wouldn't want to totally cut them out of his life.  But if he doesn't want to totally cut them out, he should at least put up barriers.  Like blocking them on social media and/or on his phone.  I wouldn't tolerate anyone bombarding me with daily posts/article links, trying to get me to change my mind about something.

    I realize this isn't the real point the parents and sister are actually trying to make.  But I'm curious if it is the first wedding for the LW's fiancé.  Then he could keep "innocently" replying back that it's FI's first marriage, so XYZ articles don't apply.  At least force them to admit...even if it is just to their own selves...that they're objection really isn't a big second wedding.

    As for the daughter, I really respect that considering her older age, he has never wanted to come between the relationships she has with her grandparents.  I think he...perhaps he and his ex...should reassure her that it's okay if she still wants to have a relationship with her grandparents.  And, if she doesn't, that okay also.  It's her decision and they will 100% understand and support it.  Including if she wants to cut it off now.  But changes her mind at a later date.
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  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    LW needs to follow his daughter's feelings.  LW says that DD doesn't want to see the grandparents, I took that to mean both sides of grandparents.  DD is 14 and old enough to see the bigotry and homophobia displayed by the grandparents.

    LW also needs to look out for the FI.  The FI met LWs parents once and doesn't want to do it again.  I think this is another sign that cutting the parents out of the picture will make for a happier and stress free life.

    Overall, LW needs boundaries and maybe working them out with a therapist wouldn't hurt, if they think it would be hard to figure out the where/when/how around the boundaries.
  • This is where parenting is parenting, and some things just aren't easy...  How to respond to conflict and being the parent to help kids learn and process through is sometimes incredibly hard but it's also a skill the father needs to pass on to the child.  How do you deal with anyone who has a position that doesn't align with your own.  This is life.  It's not a lifetime effective strategy to be taught "If they don't agree with you cut and run and never contact/communicate with this person ever again for any reason." The 14yo is going to encounter people she doesn't agree with their stance on, not just her grandparents, and it's o.k. for her to stand her ground and her beliefs.  It's also horrible that her family is trying to put a wedge between her and her father which is another thing that is the Dad's job here to keep an open discussion about.  
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