DEAR ABBY: I am a first-generation Mexican American who married into a Caucasian blended family. My husband, my stepdaughter, “Lisa,” and her mother and stepfather make up a beautiful unit. I have no children. Although my family initially ruffled at my interracial marriage, they got with the program –so much so that we invited Lisa to partake in a coming-of-age rite, the quinceanera. We were excited to update and modify it as much as possible so all sets of parents, grandparents and other family could be involved.
Suddenly, when Lisa was 14 — a year before the quinceanera, when planning should be ramped up, not down — my extended family went into radio silence. Despite our attempts to encourage, coach and generate excitement, we were led to believe Lisa had gotten cold feet and was reconsidering the event.
We honored her wishes and planned to find other ways to make her feel special. Two weeks before her 15th birthday, Lisa sent me an invitation for her quinceanera! Abby, words cannot express how heartbroken I feel. I was supposed to teach her about the cultural significance of what she was embarking on. I attended anyway, making sure to shower her with praise and put on a good face. However, in addition to being devastated, I was deeply offended. Of course, because no one bothered to check in, many features of the rite were handled improperly.
I’ve been holding my tongue for Lisa’s sake since I’m afraid this could cause a rift with her mother. What I don’t want is for Lisa to think my feelings have anything to do with something she may have done. For the sake of peace, is continued silence better? — MADRE DE LA QUINCEANERA
DEAR MADRE: Your feelings of hurt and frustration are understandable. But Lisa chose to celebrate her birthday the way she and her mom wanted — and that was her privilege. Rather than give the girl an authentic quinceanera and an understanding of the meaning of that milestone, it appears her mother and stepfather opted instead for “quinceanera-light.” Do not pick a fight over this. Move on. But do continue to share with Lisa everything you have to offer — your wisdom, your experience and your cultural heritage — from now on.
DEAR ABBY: I have been in a domestic partnership for more than 30 years. I have suggested couples counseling for the past 10 of them, but my partner has never followed through. I’m willing to give all my assets to her so I won’t worry about her future financial needs, but I don’t know how to leave her without getting into an ugly war, which will make me feel guilty. Please advise. — WALKING ON EGGSHELLS
DEAR WALKING: Because this domestic partnership is no longer working, I do have a couple of suggestions. The first is to talk with a licensed mental health professional about the guilt you are feeling. Do this before you decide to “give away the store.” My other suggestion is to consult an attorney about what kind of settlement would be fair to both of you before signing over any assets.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.