Annie's Mailbox: Is my sister-in-law being unfair?

Dear Annie: I recently had a falling out with my brother’s wife, “Cindy.”

I offered to take her to lunch to talk, but she sent my brother instead. He belittled me and had a list of grievances that went back seven years.

His major complaint is that I didn’t give Cindy a wedding or baby shower. One of the other bridesmaids hosted a shower. I offered to help, but she declined. When they were expecting their first child, Cindy’s family threw her a baby shower in her hometown. I asked Mom if we should have a shower for Cindy, but she said it wasn’t proper to do this for a family member.

Instead, my mother hosted a small dinner party.

Cindy’s other friends didn’t give her any showers, but I’m the only one she blames. Had my brother told me years ago that Cindy expected all this from me, I would have done it.

Cindy also accuses me of not babysitting enough, not returning phone calls fast enough, not visiting soon enough to see their firstborn and on and on.

Every so often, I do something else wrong, and she gives me the silent treatment.

My parents want us to get along, but won’t get involved. Family gatherings are not enjoyable, and I barely know my nephews anymore.

I am tired of Cindy’s constant expectations. I don’t purposely hurt her. Meanwhile, she never acknowledges anything nice I do, and neither of them can be bothered to call on my birthday.

I have tried to make amends when she is upset with me, but nothing helps. They are unappreciative and ungrateful.

Was I obligated to throw Cindy a shower?

— Baby Blues in Pennsylvania

Dear Pennsylvania: No. Your mother is correct that it is not proper for a family member to host a shower, although all the bridesmaids could have hosted one together.

Cindy is obviously not familiar with those rules of etiquette, and in her defense, neither are most people.

Cindy’s expectations are rather self-centered, but if you want a relationship, you’ll need to be the bigger person. She may not deserve it, but try to apologize sincerely for not anticipating her needs.

Say you want to be closer to both of them and it would help if they could teach you their preferences. Ask them to please let you know how to make things better in the future.

We hope it helps — and that it’s worth it.

Dear Annie: My granddaughter is 10 years old. Other than a two-day camping trip with her father, she has never been away from her mother — no sleepovers with friends or overnighters at either of her grandmothers’ homes.

I work with a woman who has young children, and they have spent the night with friends, grandparents and even a babysitter.

I know parenting advice changes over time, so I’m wondering whether my daughter’s approach is something new.

— Wondering Grandma

Dear Wondering: Not new, but a bit overprotective. And we suspect it’s your granddaughter who is saying “no,” and Mom is simply backing her up.

We wouldn’t pressure either of them. Not sleeping over at Grandma’s is no impediment to a loving relationship.

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