Carolyn Hax, 7 June 2013:
Hi, Carolyn: My youngest sister is getting married in a few weeks. She’s the only child from my dad’s second marriage, and the age difference between us is nearly two decades. I have two daughters, ages 15 and 8, who have been very excited for this wedding since my sister got engaged last winter. They ask me constantly if they’ll be in the wedding. Now, with two weeks to go until the wedding date and absolutely no contact from my sister, it’s pretty clear they won’t be involved. I just found out my two nieces, of similar ages to my girls, will have roles in the wedding party. My nieces live in the same town as my sister while we live out of state, so I’ve always known she’s closer to them than she has been to my girls, at least recently; my older daughter still considers their relationship close. I’m certain she’s going to be heartbroken. I’m trying to decide two things: if (and how) to bring this inequity up to my sister and how to break this news to my daughters in one of those “life lessons” ways. This just seems to demonstrate a blatant favoritism for the other nieces. Part of me really wants her to know how her decision could potentially damage a family relationship. My protective Mama Bear tends to come out in these moments, and while I want to teach them to take the high road (attend the wedding, smile, no tantrums or passive-aggressive comments), I don’t want them to think they have to completely hide their feelings and make my sister think they’re okay with what’s happened when they’re not. — J.
It’s sad that your (HALF) sister seems to think that weddings aren’t about scoring points to prove who is loved the most and the best according to who gets included in the wedding party and who is relegated to merely watching, shame-faced, among a group of disgraced friends and loved ones who didn’t have the honor of being forced into buying an outfit they’ll never wear again, but a lot of people have fucked up priorities these days, so what can you do?
Take the high road, gracious lady! Which is to say, the one in which you secretly hold a grudge against your (HALF) sister for a perceived slight which you never discussed with her because she should have known better than to purposefully not read your mind about what you thought her wedding party should look like. If you don’t teach your daughters to expect other people to predict and accommodate all their emotional needs without any verbalization whatsoever until it’s too late to fix the problem other people caused by not being psychic, who will?