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by Abigail Van Buren

Mother in Law's Disregard Doesn't Bode Well for Future

DEAR ABBY: I am upset about what my mother-in-law did at my wedding last Saturday. This is my second marriage and my husband, "Sherman's," first. Instead of eloping, we chose to have a wedding with family, close friends and only my children, who are 8 and 11. No other children were invited.

We made arrangements at a hotel to provide supervised activities and snacks for the children. One of my brothers refused to attend because he was unwilling to leave his son with someone he didn't know. My other brother went to great lengths to find a sitter of his own choosing.

My mother-in-law informed us before the wedding that she wanted to bring her daughter's 3- and 4-year-old children. We clearly stated that no children other than my own were invited and offered to include her grandchildren at the hotel with the other children. She declined the offer and assured us that the little ones would be taken care of by a friend of their father's.

Fifteen minutes before the ceremony, those little ones were out of control, waving plastic machine guns and running wild through the church. I asked that they be driven to the hotel immediately. They disappeared, and I assumed that's where they went. When the ceremony began, they were in the second row with Sherman's parents.

During the 30-minute service, they sat on various people's laps, kicked the back of the pew in front of them, shrieked, and loudly asked questions about what was going on. They turned an intimate, private affair into a circus.

Now my two brothers and sisters-in-law won't speak to me because they think I favored Sherman's family over my own. Other guests with older and better-behaved children are also upset because I told them only my children would be there.

I haven't slept a full night since because of this. Today Sherman confronted his mother. She said her grandchildren are family, and she wasn't about to exclude them, and if my brothers were upset, they should have brought their children, too.

I am at my wit's end. Sherman fully supports me in this. I don't want a fractured relationship with Sherman's mother, but I have never had anyone disregard my wishes with such effortless aplomb in my life. I no longer want to visit her, spend holidays with her or do anything with her at all. It bothers me that she has set a precedent of what she says, goes.

What can I reasonably do other than pack up my family and move to another state or country? -- MAD AS A HORNET IN N.C.

DEAR MAD AS A HORNET: Tell your siblings and their spouses -- in writing if necessary -- that what your mother-in-law did was against your expressed wishes.

Your mother-in-law was determined to get her way regardless of whom it offended. I don't blame you for wanting to distance yourself. Under the circumstances, your feelings are understandable. Unless you live in a very small town, you don't have to move to another community to avoid your husband's mother. See her only when absolutely necessary. That rude, self-centered woman is nothing but trouble.

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