Dear Abby: Mom can’t be optimistic about son’s engagement

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: My son is engaged to a young woman I’ll call Carla. They are currently living with my husband and me to save money and pay off bills. They fight often. Because of this, my husband and I were not excited when they flippantly announced their engagement and also flippantly announced their wedding date recently. I just said, “That’s nice” or “congratulations.”

I know this is not my relationship, and they are adults, but should I explain why we cannot get excited about it? I don’t dislike Carla, and I would be truly OK if they could make each other happy most of the time. But because of their arguing and unresolved issues, I do not have confidence in their relationship.

I think they may ask us for money to help with wedding expenses, and unfortunately, I feel it would be throwing money away. How awful is that? I don’t want to create hard feelings if they can make this work. Advice?

— Unenthused Mom In California

Dear Mom: If you are asked to chip in for the wedding expenses, consider making it conditional. Tell your son and Carla that you are deeply concerned because of the amount of fighting you see they do, and if they will agree to premarital counseling, you will be glad to help them.

Dear Abby: My husband and I are in our 60s and have two grown sons. We work full time and are financially secure. The conundrum: We have one grandchild who will soon turn 1. I asked my daughter-in-law for gift ideas. My daughter-in-law promptly responded that they will soon be needing a new car seat, and that she’d also like a nice running stroller.

They both have good jobs. They can easily afford such items. Now I feel that if we don’t produce one of these as a gift, she’ll think we’re cheap, but honestly, I don’t consider such things to be gifts for the baby, simply items parents should be responsible for if they can afford them. Now I wish I hadn’t asked!

— Regretful Inquiring Grandma

Dear Regretful: You may wish you hadn’t asked, but you did. While you’re not obligated to give the gifts your daughter-in-law asked for, in the interest of family harmony, it would be a good idea to give her one of the necessities she requested. And in the future, DON’T ASK!

Dear Abby: In my work, the department I’m responsible for has employees working in various locations throughout the U.S. I want to have an annual picnic at my home to show appreciation to my team. The problem is, I do not have the budget to pay for travel for employees who work in remote offices. Should I not invite these remote employees? Should I invite them but inform them that their travel won’t be reimbursed, or just not have the picnic at all?

— Not Enough In Pennsylvania

Dear Not Enough: Rather than invite workers from all over the country to a celebration you know they won’t be able to attend, consider having a small gathering at your home for the locals. Send gift cards for the favorite restaurants of the employees in distant locations. It would be thoughtful and generous and would cost far less than subsidizing travel expenses.

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