Dear Annie: We have six children, all of whom are married and have children. All 33 of us get together at Christmas, with a specified time to start dinner. One daughter's family was late in 2015 and again in 2016. We did not wait for her to arrive before eating dinner, because everyone else was on time and hungry. When she arrived 45 minutes later with her family, she made the comment to her husband, "I told you my family has no manners. They wouldn't wait to start dinner." Were we wrong to start without her group? I just want to do it right in 2017 without hurting any feelings. She lives only 20 minutes away, and yes, her children are young, but everyone else's children are also young, and they managed to arrive on time. — Waiting
Dear Waiting: I hope Santa brings her a watch this year, though it sounds as if she deserves coal. Your daughter, not you, is the one who needs to "do it right" in 2017. You were doing just fine. It would have been rude to ask the rest of your guests, who were hungry and ready to dig in, to sit and wait indefinitely. If your daughter doesn't like arriving when everyone is eating, she should try showing up on time. Tell her this (perhaps in slightly milder terms). Or tell her that the dinner starts 45 minutes before it actually does.
Dear Annie: Our 20-year-old son, "Harry," got his girlfriend pregnant, and he moved out last July. The baby was born in September.
My wife, "Laura," is having a really hard time adjusting to his being out of the house. To make things worse, the girlfriend does not care for Laura. The relationship between them has been quite rocky.
Harry works nights at the same place I do. Laura talks to him before he gets to work; we take him to dinner at his dinner break every night; and she talks to him on his way home from work, from 2:30 a.m. until 4 a.m.
Laura worries about seeing Harry all the time. It consumes her life. She posts stuff on Facebook about anxiety and suicide. She does have anxiety problems. Should I persuade her to go talk to someone, or is this a normal way for a mother to act when her firstborn moves out? She used to cry all the time, but that has stopped. Please help. — Worried Father and Husband
Dear Worried: Most parents do go through a period of sadness or anxiety when their children move out. But it sounds as if your wife is suffering from more than just empty-nest syndrome and instead has some deeper anxiety issues, for which your son is simply the current outlet. Her obsessiveness is interfering with her normal life, which means it's time to seek professional help.
Beyond that, I would also encourage you to take the initiative to do more things with just her. Take a vacation; go out on date nights; order pizza and watch a movie at home. In other words, show her some of the advantages to having the kids out of the house.
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