Dear Annie: My daughter is getting married in two weeks. My 80-year-old mother-in-law is unable to attend, but she called us with a request. Her daughter, "Donna," the bride's aunt, will be flying across the country with her two young children to attend the wedding. She asked whether Donna's two children could have a role in the celebration because she thinks Donna assumed they would be asked to participate after going to the expense of buying three tickets to attend.
We do not feel this is an appropriate request and it puts us in an awkward position. My mother-in-law is trying to make us feel bad for saying no to something that was never a consideration. Donna has a history of being manipulative. No other children were invited and we do not want other parents to feel bad that their children were not included at all.
If we say no now, my mother-in-law will push even harder, adding more stress to an already stressful event. Can we simply say we are "taking under advisement" and let it go? — Stressed in Shrewsbury
Dear Shrewsbury: Yes, that is one way of dealing with a presumptuous request. You also can bite the bullet and say firmly, but politely, "No, but we appreciate that Donna is coming and bringing the children." What someone spends to attend the wedding is up to them. It should not be used as blackmail to get a starring part in the production.
Still, you might consider finding a small role for the children, possibly handing out programs, asking guests to sign a welcome book or directing them to their seats if the kids are old enough to handle the responsibility. It's a minor effort that will make the children feel important and assuage your in-laws. And please don't worry about not having invited other children. The bride's first cousins are in a separate category. But you should not be held hostage by someone else's inappropriate demands on your daughter's big day.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Artist's Wife," whose husband was asked to do a portrait for a family member who has yet to pay him. She has at least one real boar for a relative.
My niece is an artist. I like her work, family or not. When I saw something on her website I really wanted to own, I approached her about it. She offered to sell it to me at a discount. I refused her kindness and bought two pieces from her at the same price she was asking for her other work.
One family member did not take advantage of another on either side of this transaction. If I couldn't afford my niece's prices, I wouldn't have asked her to sell me anything.
When all was said and done, she was so grateful for the decent treatment that she created a third piece of art for me as a gift. It was her choice, and I appreciated it tremendously. — Grateful Family Member
Dear Grateful: Thank you for demonstrating how relatives should behave toward one another. Taking advantage of someone because you are related not only is unfair and unkind, but it poisons the well for future family encounters.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay