DEAR AMY: My brother and his wife are divorcing after 35 years of marriage. It is becoming an ugly affair, and their two grown sons are taking sides.
This is especially difficult for us as we and our children have always been close to all of them.
So far we’ve been able to remain supportive without taking sides, but the holidays will bring a difficult dilemma. Since they are our only extended family, we have always spent all of our holidays together. We are not sure how to handle the upcoming season.
My two nephews (both single) are no longer speaking, and my sister-in-law has no family of her own left. I can’t imagine leaving anyone out, but having them all at the same time would be a recipe for disaster. Do you have any suggestions as to how to handle this situation? -- Dreading the Holidays
DEAR DREADING: You don’t make it clear who, exactly, the grown sons aren’t speaking to (perhaps each other), but the best way to handle this extremely challenging situation is to do your best to be open and generous to each family member, understanding that you are all muddling through.
I suggest a Solomon-like splitting of this first holiday down the middle. Contact one party and invite him (or her) for Christmas Eve and then another for the next day, and let your nephews know you’d like to see them so they can make choices about what they want to do. Don’t disguise or hide your intentions or give in to manipulations from anyone who attempts to engage you in this unfortunate war.
Over time you may be able to successfully maintain a friendship with your sister-in-law and both nephews — ideally, this is the goal — without your brother feeling threatened by it.
DEAR AMY: I just broke up with my boyfriend. We were together for five years, bought a house together and were even talking about marriage. Then we just fell apart.
I have been single for four months, and every guy I meet or go on a date with doesn’t seem to be what I want. Any advice? -- Mad
DEAR MAD: The reason you aren’t finding what you want is because life isn’t a candy store where you get to choose someone to complete you on your own timeline.
You don’t want to hear this, but it is too soon for you to find your next partner. The universe is trying to send this message by littering your path with guys you don’t want (an unhappy woman on a rebound bender isn’t exactly relationship bait, either).
Pay attention to the signs and spend the next few months working on you. You need to figure out what went wrong in your previous relationship — and the part you played in it — in order to do everything differently next time.
DEAR AMY: “Undecided Mom” was wondering what to do about her adolescent daughter, who was fascinated by and wanted to meet her no-good biological father.
I too was raised by a loving man. When I was 10, I found out he wasn’t my “real” dad.
Visions of a prince on a white horse danced in my head. Even though my dad who raised me was doing a great job, he dealt with the day-to-day, ho-hum father-daughter stuff.
Dad died and I missed him so badly that I called my bio-dad, who looked nothing like his picture. The first thing he did was borrow meat from my freezer and money from my husband’s wallet.
I adored his family, but I chalked him up to life lessons.
He died and I haven’t thought about him since, until I read this letter in your column. -- Been There, Done That!
DEAR BEEN THERE: Thank you for sharing your story. It’s important to be honest with kids about their parentage, giving them truthful answers to questions and understanding that it is completely natural to fantasize about the unseen, unknown parent.
It sounds as if your dad was an amazing guy. Now that you’re an adult, I’m sure you can imagine what all of this was like for him. Talk about a prince!