DEAR ABBY: Over the past five years, family gatherings have become increasingly stressful. When they come here, my nieces don't control their young children. Last year after everyone left, I sat down and cried! The mess was horrific, and the damage to my house and yard was dumbfounding. What's worse is they didn't seem to care.
I'm dreading this holiday season. I have refused to host anymore and my husband supports my decision. But I feel bad for my parents. They are in their 70s and have always had pride in their family.
As our family has branched out, respect has gone completely out the window. Last Thanksgiving we were all on our own. We always invite my parents, but they decline because they don't want to hurt any feelings. We have told them it doesn't matter who they're with, as long as they celebrate with one of us.
I feel like I'm being punished for not having the whole family at my house. If it weren't for my daughter, we would leave during the holidays to avoid the dissension. How do I deal with my feelings and live with myself? I don't understand the disrespect in the young generation. If you say anything about a child's behavior, you are verbally abused and made an outcast. -- GIVING UP IN TEXAS
DEAR GIVING UP: I'm glad you wrote, because you're blaming the wrong people. The disrespect you have described is a direct result of children not having been taught how to behave by their ineffective parents, and because there have been no consequences for bad behavior.
If you are asked why there will be no celebrations at your house this year, tell the questioner it's because you can no longer handle the mess and the damage. It's the truth. And PLEASE don't feel guilty for doing so.
As to your parents, please understand that staying home is THEIR choice. They may prefer to celebrate -- or not -- by themselves. It has no reflection on you.