11/15/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency

Advice columnist Amy Dickinson addresses a widow who is dealing with holiday family drama among two of her adult daughters. Is Mom responsible for appeasing the stubborn daughter?

Dear Amy:

I am a widow with three adult daughters, all of whom live close by.

My two oldest girls stopped speaking to each other shortly after my husband died eight years ago.

There was no big falling–out –– just a slow simmering of resentments.

My youngest daughter and I spent years imploring them to work things out, to no avail. It’s an upsetting situation, but, ultimately, we realized that this is not something that we can fix.

After the older girls stopped speaking, my oldest daughter declined to come to any family event that her sister was attending.

Consequently, she has not shared a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner with all of us in years.

I have continued hosting these events as usual, stressing that everyone is invited. Nonetheless, my oldest has opted to visit me on Christmas morning rather than share a meal with her sister and she spends Thanksgiving with me only on the rare year when my middle daughter is not in town.

Here is my problem: Two weeks ago, my oldest daughter told me that she doesn’t think it’s fair that her sister gets Christmas dinner, and she only sees me in the morning. She is insisting that I swap them this year.

This puts me in a terrible position. I don’t know how I’m supposed to tell my middle daughter and my grandchildren that they are disinvited for the latter part of Christmas and need to be out of the house by noon.

Q&A with the author of ‘Sibling Estrangement and the Road to Reconciliation’

My youngest daughter tells me that this is an unreasonable request, that this is not my problem, and I should continue to stress that I will host as I have always done with everyone included.

Still, I feel like whatever I do, I’m the bad guy.

How should I handle this?

– Frustrated

Dear Frustrated:

You should not give in to your oldest daughter’s demand. If you do give in, then next year she might decide that she wants to “have you all to herself” on Christmas Day.

You don’t say specifically, but your middle daughter does not seem to be placing these specific demands upon you. If her older sister showed up for a holiday meal, I assume that she and the kids would find a way to handle it.

You are not the “bad guy.” You are the mom, and you should do the mom thing: “I don’t play favorites. I’m hosting Christmas dinner, as usual, and – as usual –– I would love for you to come!”

You might add that a great Christmas gift for you would be for these two sisters to reconcile, at least to the point where they can be peacefully and respectfully in each other’s presence during holiday meals.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – from holiday family drama to DNA surprises. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

Click here to read more Ask Amy columns curated for a boomer audience. 

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff