Dear Annie: I grew up with a sister who had substance-abuse problems. While I studied hard, “Carla” dropped out of school and led a life of partying. My parents always made sure she was well provided for. Every time they gave her something expensive, my mother would say, “Don’t worry, you will get the same in my will.”
Then one day, my parents told me they had signed over the family home to Carla. She told them I had agreed to it, but I never discussed it with her. But when I said this to my parents, they yelled and screamed and called me a liar. They said it didn’t matter anyway because they would make it up to me in the will. They then told me the value of the house for the sake of the will, which was a quarter of its actual worth. I suggested they get the house appraised, and they became angry. They also lied to our relatives about what happened, although when my parents die, it will be obvious that I received nothing from them.
Annie, I have been a good son to my parents for my entire life. How can they do this to me? This hurts so much that it’s the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning. I am ready to walk away from my family. I deserve better.
-- Left-Out Son
Dear Left Out: You do deserve better, but your parents feel so guilty and obligated toward Carla that they give her everything in a misguided attempt to protect her from herself. You cannot fix this. But you can forgive them and move forward. Accept that you are not likely to get an equitable share of their estate. If there is a specific item that you would like to have, it’s OK to ask your parents whether you can have it now, and tell them that you do not expect anything more. Once the inheritance is off the table, you will be able to have a relationship with your parents based on who they are and not on what you deserve to get as a reward for being a good son.
Dear Annie: I’ve been invited to the wedding of an old college friend who is gay. I am a Christian and believe that homosexuality is a sin. I will send my regrets.
My question is: Do I send a gift? I know that traditional wedding etiquette says to send a gift when invited, but would a gift say I approve of and support her decision? What should I do?
-- Reluctant Gift Giver
Dear Reluctant: A gift does not indicate approval of the marriage. If that were the case, quite a few people would not receive one. You send a gift to wish your friend well. If you do not wish your friend well, and you do not attend the wedding, you do not need to send a card or a present.
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