DEAR ABBY: I am the oldest of three 20ish children. Our mother passed away many years ago. My sister is being married later this year, and I'm planning several parties for the happy couple. We are also entering into the planning stages of the wedding, but are encountering some difficulty with my father's wife. My problem is that she wants to be included in the planning of every party, as well as the wedding. It's not because we are particularly close to her -- it's to show her "socially elite" friends what a wonderful wedding SHE threw, even though she and my father refuse to pay for anything.
It has reached the point where we have been ordered to include her and her children. I'm tired of dodging the issue, and my siblings and I are tired not only of being nice and polite, but also of including her on things we are trying to plan for ourselves.
Please advise me about how to handle this. -- STEP-STRESSED IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR STEP-STRESSED: Don't dodge the issue -- face it. Since your father and his wife are paying for nothing, tell them in no uncertain terms that "he who pays the piper calls the tune." If your stepmother would like to take over one event, and pay for it, guarantee that you and your siblings will cooperate in every way and attend. And keep in mind that if you want to keep peace in the family in the future, your father, stepmother and step-siblings must be invited to the wedding and reception.