DEAR AMY: I have a 30-year-old daughter who just finished a short-lived marriage to a useless alcoholic. Within a few days of the ink getting dried on the papers, she announced she is engaged to a really nice guy (he is).
She wants me to provide the food and drink for this wedding. (I also paid for her first wedding.)
It will be a small affair, around 100 people.
She asked how much I was putting into the budget, and I told her $5,000. She was upset because she found a venue she liked and it rents for $1,200, leaving her less money for the food and beverages.
I told her there was a great venue a few blocks away that charged much less, thereby providing more resources for entertainment.
She is worried some out-of-town guests might have to walk eight blocks after the wedding. She wants me to raise the budget and insinuates that I'm being cheap. These are tough times — shouldn't wedding guests be prepared to burn off a little of that chow?
— Lost and Confused Dad
DEAR LOST: You sound determined to contribute to your daughter's wedding — even though she sounds ungrateful and unappreciative.
Because you've offered $5,000 as a gift and she sees it as the start of a financial negotiation, it would be best if you wrote her a check and let her decide how to spend it.
You should convey to her that this is her opportunity to budget for and create — without interference or further assistance — the wedding she wants. Tell her you look forward to the event — but that you won't be contributing any more money toward it.
If your daughter thinks eight blocks is too far to walk (it might be for some guests), she can either help arrange transportation for them or spend more on the closer venue. But this is a decision she will have to make.
DEAR AMY: My husband's adult daughter has refused to speak to us or attend any family functions that include us for the past three years because we "still have a relationship" with her ex-husband.
She says it's disrespectful to her new husband and, consequently, she has no contact with her father. Our ex-son-in-law calls us occasionally on holidays, and because he has a remodeling business, he has done some work at our home.
During their marriage, we always got along very well and have no hard feelings toward her ex-husband (there are no children involved).
We feel as if she is playing "emotional blackmail" and wants to control whom we talk to.
How long should we let this go on, or should we just continue to hold our ground? We don't feel that a once-a-year phone call and a Christmas card constitute a "relationship," but she refuses to see it any differently.
I don't know how we can change things, but are willing to take your advice as to how to break through this impasse.
— Blackmailed Parents
DEAR BLACKMAILED: I agree with you that your stepdaughter should not control whom you speak to or have a relationship with, but I can also imagine how it might have felt to her when you hired her ex-husband to work on your house.
If this was an acrimonious divorce and your stepdaughter was hurt and reeling, then it was insensitive for you to reach out to this person and hire him to work for you. Hiring an ex is different from sending or receiving a Christmas card.
If you want to try to heal the relationship with your daughter, you might start by acknowledging her hurt feelings about your choice to employ her ex.
If she accepts this and wants to move forward, then work on it together. If she wants to review your Christmas card list, then I agree you should draw the line.
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