Dear Annie: My daughter is marrying a widower, “Hank,” with three children. The problem is with “Gail,” the mother of his late wife.
My daughter includes Gail in the daily household activities, including holidays and birthdays. The children have pictures of their mom (Hank’s late wife) hung up in their home and speak often about her.
Gail is not very nice to my daughter. She purposely calls her the wrong name. She says she does this because my daughter’s name reminds her of her daughter.
Gail has done other things — such as pull the children out of school after being told not to. She has taken them to doctors and dentists for appointments without talking to my daughter or their father. She has been asked to back off some. My daughter understands that Gail jumped in and helped for a year and that it might be difficult for her to turn over these responsibilities, so she has been patient with Gail. But they have been together for 18 months now and live together as a family.
The issue is that my daughter decided not to invite Gail to the wedding. This is intended to be a special day about the bride and groom. My daughter was concerned that Gail might speak ill of her to other guests, as has happened on other occasions. The invitations were sent out, and Gail immediately wanted to know where hers was. My daughter explained, as nicely as possible, that she was not invited. My daughter was immediately met with mean, hateful comments.
Gail then called the grandkids’ paternal grandmother — Hank’s mom — and complained to her for 40 minutes.
The wedding had to be rescheduled due to COVID-19, and the delay has put the issue back to square one. Gail has started all over, assuming she will get an invitation. Is my daughter wrong to exclude her? — Wedding Drama
Dear Wedding Drama: If you have to ask the question, you probably know the answer. Yes, it is wrong for your daughter not to invite the grandmother of her stepchildren to the wedding. Your daughter is not starting fresh with Hank; she’s marrying a man who comes with a family that suffered a tragedy. While Gail’s behavior does sound a bit intrusive, try to remember where she is coming from. She lost her daughter. She is probably devastated, and her daughter’s children are going to be another woman’s stepchildren. Try to show compassion for Gail. You and your daughter don’t have to love her, but you certainly have to learn to be kind and gracious to her. She should continue to be a part of your stepchildren’s lives — hopefully forever — and I think it is up to your daughter and Hank to facilitate that.
As far as the negative talk about your daughter, no one needs that at their wedding. Your daughter and Hank should have a very direct conversation with Gail, explaining that they will not tolerate drama on their special day and that she is invited only on the condition that she meet their kindness with kindness.
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