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by Abigail Van Buren

Mother-in-Law Demands Family Presence for the Holidays

DEAR ABBY: The holidays are approaching, and I suspect many young couples are facing the same problem about where to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have two daughters -- one married and one single. The married daughter's mother-in-law has declared that this is "her" year for Thanksgiving, and next year is "her" year for Christmas. She has three sons, none of whom lives within four hours of her home. All three sons have children.

Don't you think the sons and their wives should decide for themselves if they want to travel for the holidays? They may prefer to spend Christmas morning in their own homes. Also, what about her daughters-in-law's parents? Perhaps they, too, have other grown children who would like to decide what they want to do for the holidays.

My philosophy is to plan my holidays and invite my children. If they can come, great! If not, there are no hard feelings. If all of my children and grandchildren can't be here at the same time, I focus on the ones who are and enjoy the time I have with them. I think the woman is being disrespectful to her sons and daughters-in-law. What say you? -- FOCUS ON A GOOD TIME

DEAR FOCUS: As your letter illustrates, not all mothers-in-law are alike. Some are iron-fisted matriarchs who demand obedience from their grown children. Others, like you, are more easygoing. In my opinion, the woman you have described is less disrespectful than overbearing.

Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations | Family & Parenting