Ask Amy: Parents pressure sister to intervene in affair
Dear Amy: My younger sister is 20 years old, and lives with her boyfriend. This is a crisis for my religious parents. They believe her boyfriend is a “bad influence,” and that my sister needs to be rescued from him. They say that because I’m her sister, I should talk to her about it.
Now, they’re guilt-tripping me, saying that I don’t care about her.
What my parents do NOT know is that my sister began the affair with her boyfriend while he was still married, with two pre-school-aged kids at home.
I do not want to tell my parents these details. But I’m having a hard time dealing with their lifelong belief that my sister needs to be coddled.
My sister has always been very good at looking out for Number One.
How can I subtly let my parents know it’s ridiculous to view her as someone who needs to be rescued? — No Longer My Sister’s Keeper
Dear No Longer: You don’t need to be subtle with your folks. You should tell them, “I think my sister is trying to live her own life. This is what she wants. She is making her own choices. If you want to talk to her, you should get in touch with her to tell her how you feel.”
The lack of subtlety should run in your sister’s direction, too. She is quite young, and yes, as her older sister, you could be helpful by simply telling her that you care about her and are available to her, but that she will have to work on her relationship with your parents independently.
If you granted some nonjudgmental latitude for a young person making possibly poor longer-term choices, you would keep the door cracked open. You should not lie to your folks on her behalf, but — if you decided out of spite to volunteer the fact that she has made a move that is certainly immoral (in their eyes) — what greater purpose would it serve?
It is possible that their parental coddling indirectly led to this current state of affairs. You should feel some sense of relief that they didn’t do this to you.
Dear Amy: I’m getting married next summer! My fiance and I were talking about our wedding plans, and he has what I think is a nice idea, but we’re not sure how to tactfully pull it off.
With all of the financial stress that COVID has brought to so many people, we don’t want our guests to feel obligated to bring us a gift.
We would just like them to come and celebrate with us. We could say, “No gifts, please” on our invitations; but on the other hand, we have family and friends that I know would say, “But I WANT to get you a gift,” and would insist on doing so. How can we politely balance wanting to be considerate to all parties? — Awkward
Dear Awkward: Many couples decide to have “no gifts” weddings, for a variety of reasons, and you are right some guests (especially family members) won’t comply with that directive.
On a card separate from your invitation (not on the invitation), you could say, “No gifts, please. Your presence at our celebration is your gift to us. However, if you are inclined, we would be honored by a donation to the Food Depository, which helps feed families displaced by the pandemic” (obviously, you would choose your own favorite cause).
If people bring or send you a gift, accept it graciously and thank them promptly.
Dear Amy: I was a dispatcher/supervisor for 10 years and spent another 25 years scheduling the City of Madison’s (Wisconsin) bus system before I retired.
In that capacity, I would meet new drivers in groups for about an hour and talk to them about schedules. I always asked them to tell me how they’d define a safe driver.
I used to tell these newly hired city bus drivers that a “good driver” is one who doesn’t make his or her passengers nervous.
Setting aside all of the safety data you presented to “Anxious Wife” about her husband’s dangerous tailgating, her husband is both a lousy driver and a jerk who should otherwise adjust his driving habits to suit her. — Colin, in Cross Plains, Wis.
Dear Colin: Many people did not like my data-heavy answer to “Anxious Wife,” which demonstrated just how dangerous tailgating is.
I wish I had presented your wisdom instead! Thank you for sharing it with us, now.