Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Mother hurt by daughter’s wedding invitation list? Friend obsessing over politics and it’s ruining the relationship?

DEAR NATALIE: My daughter is getting married next year and she asked me for a list of my relatives for invitations. I sent her a list. I have a large family, but the total family members are 30, which includes me. I tried to keep the list to people who live in-state and also those that she had a relationship with growing up. She sent me a final list back and she had cut five of my siblings, two of which I am very close to, and most of my cousins. My daughter said that this is her final decision. I told her that is very insulting, embarrassing for me and her, as well as rude. She refuses to back down. In the meantime, she has invited all of her father’s relatives, plus his cousins and their plus-ones. She is not permitting plus-ones for my family or any of her friends. I objected and she will not speak to me now. I told her not to send any save-the-dates at this time to my relatives. If she insists on omitting some of my family members, it would be better not to invite any. I also said I may not be there, either. It is a insult to me. I am divorced from her father and it was not pretty. I almost did not survive it due to his ugliness and his mother. His mother is a controlling and manipulative person, as well as a pathological liar.  My ex is the same as his mother. Just when I thought we were making it work, this wedding nonsense happened. I supported her through high school and college. I paid all the bills, paid tuition, car payment, insurance, medical, clothing, food and shelter. I gave her anything she needed. She moved in with me for a year to save money for a down payment on a home. I did not charge her anything. She just moved to a new house that she and her fiance bought. She waited until she moved in and then hit me with this. She did this on purpose, I believe. She needed my help, and once I did, she cut any communication from me. I am crushed. I can't eat or sleep and I feel very depressed. What advice can you give me to either deal with this or get her to change her mind? --CRUSHED

DEAR CRUSHED: I don’t know how old your daughter is, but whatever the age, she sounds very emotionally immature. Unfortunately, unless you are helping to pay for this wedding, I doubt she is going to budge at all on the guest list. She sounds like a spoiled brat who is ungrateful for all of the sacrifices that you made for her, but let’s put that aside. If you don’t go to her wedding, you may regret it further down the road. I have seen mother/daughter relationships like this, and sometimes they get better once the daughter grows up a bit more. If she has been manipulated over the years, it may take a good family therapist to help you sort out your relationship. If she isn’t open to that, all you can do is wait and be patient. You are also under no obligation to continue a toxic relationship with her. If she chooses to continue to belittle you and your relationship with her, I would draw a line in the sand. Boundaries are necessary for even healthy relationships, and if she doesn’t want to treat you with respect, then she doesn’t need to interact with you. I think you were right to tell her not to invite any of your family members. It would be worse if several of them felt slighted. At least this way, you can tell your family what is going on and they can be there to support you. Good luck to you and I hope your daughter one day opens her eyes to how much you love her.

DEAR NATALIE: I have a really good friend but he and I differ in our political beliefs. It’s to the point where I cannot even have a conversation with him about anything because he makes it political and has these insane conspiracy theories that he is always sharing with me. We literally fight every time we are together now and I’m so tired of it. What can I do to help improve our relationship? We’ve known each other for years but it’s all becoming too much. --OVERKILL

DEAR OVERKILL: Have you tried telling him exactly what you just said to me? Maybe he honestly isn’t aware at how obsessive he sounds about politics. Everything has become political, it seems, and because we are inundated with information all day long, people can easily get caught up in the drama of every issue. I would ask him if would be willing to take a “challenge” of hanging out without talking about anything political. Just say, “Look, things have been really intense. I get it. I know we don’t see eye-to-eye and we probably won’t. At some point, let’s try to find some commonalities to base our debates around, but until then, let’s challenge each other to find meaning outside of the political.” If he balks at it, you may just need to take a step back from him. Sometimes, we feel a sense of loyalty to our friends from long ago, but at the end of the day, if you met this guy on the street, would you really become friends? If the answer is “no”, you may want to reconsider what you are holding on to.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: It never hurts to ask. Whatever you are needing, just ask. The worst that can happen is that someone says no. (And really, no is just, try again later!)

Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email,; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Follow her on Twitter at @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)