Dear Annie: I am one of 12 siblings. My younger brother, "Dan," age 42, met "Karen," one of my daughter's friends, at her college graduation ceremony. He later married her. Since then, the two of them have tried to redefine their relationship with my daughter to suit their own needs.
Dan demands that my daughter not call him "uncle." My guess is he thinks it will make Karen's friends accept him as a peer. This causes my daughter conflict and pain. Karen excludes my daughter from their family-hosted functions, yet talks in detail about these events when my daughter and her friends have their girls' night out.
My brothers support Dan's position. Now I hear that Karen badmouths my daughter to my sisters-in-law and is revealing personal problems about those same sisters-in-law to work mates. This situation is deteriorating quickly. How can I best help my daughter?
Dear Mississippi: Like it or not, Dan is entitled to be addressed however he wishes. If he doesn't want your daughter to call him "uncle," she should respect that. If he wants to be treated as Karen's husband rather than your brother, encourage her to make an effort to do so in order to salvage a relationship with both of them. Dan is never going to be the person you want him to be, and the reasons behind his foolish behavior are irrelevant. The best way to help your daughter is to teach her to tolerate loved ones whose behavior they cannot change. (On the other hand, Karen's big mouth soon will make her unwelcome everywhere.)
Dear Annie: I'm getting married next year and don't know who to choose as my bridesmaids. I have three friends, one of whom I've known for more than 10 years. I have not spoken to the other two in months. They don't even know I'm engaged. I have put a lot of distance between us for a few reasons. One of the women is extremely obese, and I've exhausted myself trying to help her lose weight, but she refuses to work on it.
Both women are immature, still live at home, have no desire to grow as adults and are loud and obnoxious in public. I'm afraid if I invite them to be in the wedding party, they will embarrass themselves, my family and my fiance's family. But I also worry that if I tell them I'm engaged, they will assume I'm asking them to be bridesmaids.
So, Annie, when should I tell them about my engagement? Should I simply invite them as guests and deal with hurt feelings later, or be totally upfront with them and risk losing an already distant relationship?
- A Worried Bride
Dear Bride: It may come as a surprise to you, but these friendships are already over. You don't keep in touch with these two women, you don't actually like them, and your dismissal of someone because of her weight does not say anything nice about you. Since you haven't been speaking to them, there is no reason to call about your engagement unless you wish to invite them to an engagement party.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.