One of my in-laws needs a new kidney. She will be undergoing the transplant process soon. Her family wanted me to give her one of my kidneys. My family said no to this, and so I did not get tested beyond the blood test (we are the same blood group). Now my in-laws are angry and have stopped talking to me.

I would like to know how my sick relative is doing, but I don’t know what to say when I call, or whether I should call.

In the past they have said horrible things to me because I did not donate my kidney; it seems now that our long friendship is meaningless.

I still care for her and her family, but how do I let them know that I am thinking about them? I know if I try to call, the woman who is getting the transplant will say nasty things to me. What should I do? -- Upset

DEAR UPSET: If donating an organ is what it takes to get in good with your in-laws, then their standards are a tad unreasonable.

I assume there are other dynamics at play which created this pressure on you, but if you are eager to reach this in-law but don’t want to risk the verbal backlash, then the best way to do so is through a greeting card.

When you send a message through the mail, you lessen the opportunity for back talk.


I have a heart-wrenching decision to make about giving the love of my life a second chance.

He will not be honest with his two children about our relationship. His 16-year-old daughter and son (age 20) have told him that if he marries me, they will cut him out of their lives and never speak to him again. His ex-wife is fueling this and has so far been successful in making his children think they have the right to make this ultimatum. This is emotional extortion.

He is currently serving in Iraq. He and I have been living together stateside. His children and his ex-wife find this unacceptable.

During a visit home recently he asked his son to help him move some personal belongings out of our apartment to put them in storage. This was a sham gesture to make the son think we are not together.

I was so upset I ended the relationship. I am humiliated and devastated that my significant other cannot be honest. I think he is spineless and unable to establish healthy boundaries.

We spoke by phone today, and he said, “I will be honest with my children about us,” but I’ve heard this for more than two years, and I don’t have any reason to believe him now. Should I give him a second chance? -- Devastated

DEAR DEVASTATED: All the most important people in your guy’s life are pressuring him, and he is reacting by scurrying for cover.

Because he has essentially moved out of your home, your “second chance” could be to dial back your relationship and calmly continue to assert your choice to live authentically.

A good parent models appropriate and mature behavior. Allowing his kids to jerk him around isn’t good for him , but it is really not good for the kids. His ex is training them in the art of emotional extortion, but he is participating by permitting it.

When he comes home, if you two want to be together permanently, you can decide to get married (living together without marriage creates doubt about your relationship). If he is honest, patient, happy and in charge of his own life, his kids should come around.


“New Year’s Baby” asked how to manage her disappointment over the fact that her in-laws don’t celebrate her birthday, which coincides with the holiday season.

I suggest she celebrate her birthday at the halfway point in the summer. People are generally more relaxed and the weather’s usually better.

She can really make her “half-birthday” fun, playful and lively instead of obligatory and pressured. As a teacher, I do this all the time for my students who miss celebrations with their classmates due to summer birthdays. -- Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE: This is a great suggestion.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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