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Annie's Mailbox

Party plans cause family friction

August 31, 2011

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Q. I’m recovering from cancer. To thank my husband for being so helpful, caring, and patient during my treatment, I want to give him a nice party for his 30th birthday. He liked the idea and put together a guest list.

I mentioned this to my in-laws, and they offered to help. The next thing I know, they’ve insisted on paying for the entire party and having it at their house. They also wanted me to invite some of their friends.

I told them my husband is not close to these people and I did not intend to invite them. They became upset, saying I was putting them in an awkward situation and they would never be able to explain why these friends weren’t included in this big party. That annoyed me, and I decided to change our plans. I told my in-laws we would now have a much smaller party at my house.

Now there is tension between us. What should I do?

STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

A. Your in-laws overstepped by co-opting your party, and it was perfectly reasonable for you to back out and start over. But it would be a good idea to mend fences. Please tell your in-laws that you greatly appreciate their efforts, but you didn’t feel up to the major shindig they had in mind. Promise to cooperate in every way possible should they choose to have a second celebration at a later date.

Q. My daughter is getting married in January. She asked her cousin ‘‘Alia’’ to be the maid of honor. Alia has never cared for any of my daughter’s boyfriends and is making no effort to be part of the plans. She has put off getting her dress and told my daughter it was for financial reasons, but her Facebook page says she got a big raise and a new car.

My daughter was hurt, but said nothing. We both thought it meant Alia wanted out of the wedding, so my daughter told her cousin that she could bow out if it was causing money problems. Apparently, Alia was offended by that. Worse, her mother got involved and started calling my daughter and giving her hell. My daughter told Alia’s mother to mind her own business. I have stayed out of it.

Now there are hard feelingswithin the family, and I feel terrible for my daughter. Any suggestions?

NEW YORK MOTHER

A. We assume the goal is to patch this up before the wedding, so someone needs to apologize. Unfortunately, it’s not likely to be Alia or her mother. Your daughter should call her cousin and tell her she is sorry there has been ill will and misunderstanding on both sides. She should then say, sincerely, that she would still like Alia to be in her wedding party if it isn’t too great a hardship for her. If Alia gets nasty, however, your daughter should calmly tell her that, under the circumstances, it would be best if she stepped down from her bridesmaid responsibilities.

Q. I disagree with your answer to ‘‘Danged If I Do and Danged If I Don’t,’’ whose son and his new wife don’t want her to stay in touch with the ex-wife.

They have no business telling Mom whom she can and cannot contact. The ex is the mother of the grandchildren and still part of the family. You don’t know that the new wife won’t change her views. She should be making peace with the family she married into, not dictating terms

J.S.

A. Of course she should, but it’s naive and unrealistic to think the new wife is going to be more accepting of the ex anytime soon.

E-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 West Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.