Dear Amy: I have three children in their 30s. My oldest son (No. 1) and my middle daughter have been very angry at each other for over a year.
Son No. 1 and his wife will be having their first baby in four months, and so far, he is saying that we can’t tell our daughter.
We host birthdays and holidays at our house. I say invite them all and if they don’t want to come, so be it.
Son No. 2 (who is not involved in this drama) is having a birthday, which we will celebrate at our home. Son No. 1 won’t come because our daughter is attending, but wants to host a later event for Son No. 2 (daughter won’t be invited).
It looks like something similar is being proposed for Christmas.
I’m not interested in enabling this mess by attending second events at which my daughter isn’t invited or by disinviting her. I want to tell my daughter about the birth of our first grandchild because it is a family thing.
My wife is more interested in doing what No. 1 Son wants. In part this is because he lives a block from us, and my wife doesn’t want him to take out his anger at us by not having us be close to their child. (He hasn’t threatened this, but she is nervous.)
— Disgusted Dad
Dad: I’m with you on this. You present Son No. 1 as being the primary powerhouse in perpetuating this unhealthy dynamic, and if that is true, then I’d say that he is quickly closing the “at-fault” gap with his sister.
I’m sorry your family is experiencing this. Estrangement among family members (and now the threat of the same) seems to be on the rise — at least judging from the contents of my (virtual) mailbag.
You seem concerned but stalwart, but your wife’s fears will only enable your eldest son to tighten the grip and manipulate and control the entire family. This nonsense about not “letting” you announce the upcoming birth of your grandchild is … ridiculous. He does not sound mature enough to be a father.
In terms of your wife, I suggest that you both keep this in mind: Any time you make a decision based on fear, the outcome will not serve anyone well.
You should convey to all of your children (through your actions or words): “We will continue to host events at home. As in the past, everyone in the family is always invited and welcome. Come, don’t come, it’s up to you. But I will not attend multiple events because my children have decided to prolong an argument that should have been settled long ago.”
Dear Amy: I am blessed with two beautiful and sweet daughters. Both are college graduates living on their own in long-term relationships.
My daughters have chosen two very different career paths: One makes VERY good money, while her sister struggles to pay monthly bills.
Is it okay to help the struggling daughter? Will the other daughter feel slighted? I don’t want to cause any issues.
— Potential Bank Mom
Mom: Yes, it is okay to help your struggling daughter. Being in a financial bind is extremely stressful; help can give someone room to breathe, as well as a fresh start. Unfortunately, however, repeated bailouts could interrupt her progress.
Your struggling daughter might need to check her spending, get a different job (or choose another partner) in order to live within her means.
If you help one daughter, the other daughter might feel slighted, but there’s a lesson there for her, too: Life isn’t always fair.
Her chosen path and hard work have quite literally paid off. Surely, she wouldn’t have it any other way. She will face various challenges in her own future, and as her mother, you will do your best to be there for her, too.
You do not have to justify your financial choices to anyone, unless these choices place you or others at risk.
Dear Amy: “Tree Owner” asked about the large tree in her yard that every fall sheds its leaves partly onto the neighbor’s yard.
As we rake up leaves and pods from our neighbor’s tree every fall, we remind ourselves what a gift the shade was all summer.
Neighborly: That’s the spirit!
©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency