Dear Abby: The holiday season is here, with the traditional family dinner get-togethers. Our problem is, our two children (ages 27 and 29) don’t like each other and rarely have contact during the year. This creates such stressful holiday meals that my wife and I would prefer to simply not have them. What words should we use to explain to both of them that we will no longer host holiday family dinners in the future? The conundrum arises if one of them says, “Well, I can come for Thanksgiving, so ‘Jesse’ can come for Christmas,” which divides us in a way that is unacceptable. Although we have asked them to work out their issues, they have made no progress.

Dad Stressed By Holidays

Dear Dad: Your “children” are adults and should be able to bury their differences two nights out of the year for your sake. If one makes that suggestion, your response should be: “No. It would only remind us that half our family is missing, which would sadden us on what’s supposed to be a happy occasion. That’s why your mother and I have decided to make other plans instead.”

Dear Abby: I was visiting a neighbor whose son and daughter-in-law were also visiting. They have two daughters, ages 9 and 7. While I was there her son took the girls into the bathroom and gave them baths. I was shocked. The mom said, “That’s HIS job!”

Abby, I could understand if they were toddlers, but by that age, they should be able to bathe themselves. When I asked her why, she said, “They play too much.” Is this unusual? The grandmother – my neighbor – confided later that it made her uncomfortable, too, and said she has hinted to them both that the girls need privacy. What should we do or say, or is it none of our business?

Confused in Alabama

Dear Confused: By the ages of 7 and 9, the girls should not only be capable of bathing themselves, but also be able to comprehend when either parent says, “You’re splashing around too much. Cut out the funny business!” While I don’t think it’s your place to say anything, I do think the grandmother should.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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