Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - By Amy Dick­in­son Con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email,

Dear Amy: I have won­der­ful in-laws. They take care of my daugh­ter and are very gen­er­ous. How­ever, they can be ex­tremely over­bear­ing and tend to med­dle into our lives.

They also push their tra­di­tions and opin­ions on us.

For our daugh­ter’s birth they got her a pil­low that you dec­o­rate at ev­ery birth­day un­til they are 21.

My hus­band de­spised the pil­low grow­ing up and does not want it to be a tra­di­tion for our fam­ily. On her first birth­day we “for­got” to bring the pil­low. They were very up­set and would not let it go.

We are in the process of buy­ing a home and ev­ery home we like or see they go to the open houses, drive around the neigh­bor­hood, and speak to all the neigh­bors. We feel our pri­vacy is be­ing in­truded upon and we want to make our own fam­ily tra­di­tions. How do we tell them to back off with­out hurt­ing any­one’s feel­ings? — In­vaded

Dear In­vaded: Do you re­mem­ber the old joke that Woody Allen quotes in “An­nie Hall”?

“A guy walks into a psy­chi­a­trist’s of­fice and says, ’Hey, Doc, my brother is crazy! He thinks he’s a chicken.’ The doc says, ’Why don’t you turn him in?’ Then the guy says, ’I would, but I need the eggs.’”

Your in-laws drive you crazy, but they are gen­er­ously pro­vid­ing you with lots of TLC.

You need the eggs. You just need to fig­ure out how to make your omelet with­out crack­ing too many of them.

You and your hus­band must build a vir­tual picket fence around your fam­ily. The fence will have a gate on it. Ev­ery time his par­ents try to climb over a picket, they will get a lit­tle bit hurt. But if they learn how to use the gate, they will al­ways be wel­comed, warmly and with­out reser­va­tion.

You need to train them to al­ways use the gate.

Don’t share ANY real es­tate trans­ac­tions with any­one. If they ask why you’re be­ing so cir­cum­spect, you should frankly say, “When there is any­thing to re­port, we’ll let you know.”

In terms of the pil­low tra­di­tion, your in-laws were con­fronted by the fact that a fam­ily tra­di­tion they had main­tained for years was not en­joyed or ap­pre­ci­ated. I can un­der­stand why they were up­set. Ac­knowl­edg­ing this with re­spect and kind­ness (”I know you’re up­set but...”) will help them to move on. Per­haps they could move this pil­low tra­di­tion to their house (your hus­band didn’t en­joy it, but your daugh­ter might).

Dear Amy: I am host­ing an af­ter­noon birth­day party for my hus­band in a restau­rant, which in­cludes a buf­fet and DJ (we love to dance). I am be­ing charged per per­son. Re­gard­ing whom to in­vite, am I ob­li­gated to in­vite a niece’s live-in boyfriend’s 9-year-old daugh­ter (who also lives with them)?

The only chil­dren who will be present are my hus­band’s three grand­chil­dren.

Dear Try­ing: If this were an “adults-only” party, then of course you wouldn’t in­clude a 9-year-old. But it is held dur­ing the day­time, there will be other chil­dren there, and so it would be kind­est to also in­clude this other child.

Many places will charge a re­duced rate for chil­dren, so you should check with the restau­rant re­gard­ing this pos­si­bil­ity.

Dear Amy: “Only an Ac­quain­tance” de­scribed her­self as an in­tro­vert, who was ba­si­cally try­ing to re­pel the friend­ship ad­vances of a new ac­quain­tance, who is very ex­tro­verted. I ap­pre­ci­ated your ad­vice for her to honor her own na­ture, but her ques­tion had an­other el­e­ment: she and her hus­band had con­ceived a child through IVF, and her new friend was in­ter­ested in also pur­su­ing IVF. This new friend was earnestly and ag­gres­sively try­ing to get in­for­ma­tion.

I think you missed an im­por­tant point. If this cou­ple hadn’t blabbed about how their child was con­ceived, they would be able to keep their pri­vacy now. — Pri­vacy, Please!

Dear Pri­vacy: These per­sonal de­tails have a way of leech­ing out, but I take your larger point, and thank you.

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