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Ask Amy: I’m scared about what will happen at the wedding

Ask Amy: I’m scared about what will happen at the wedding

Dear Amy: My brother is due to get married next year and, while I’m really happy for him, I’m dreading the idea of having to see my mother again.

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Our mom ticks all the malignant narcissistic personality disorder boxes: emotionally immature and dysregulated, lacks empathy, disrespectful of boundaries, etc.

I suffered horrendously growing up, but I was able to get away in my 30s by leaving the country.

My siblings have suffered in various ways, too. Our experiences growing up have meant that we are not close. This is partly because our mother has badmouthed us to each other over the decades.

I’ve started to heal by going to therapy and doing research into the disorder.

I’m so tempted to just not go to my brother’s wedding, but I also feel as if this isn’t right, either.

My siblings and I have never spoken about this. I don’t think they know that she is mentally ill.

I’m scared my mother will create drama and blame me while casting herself as the victim. It’s what she’s always done.

I’m losing sleep over it, and the wedding invites haven’t even been sent out yet.

What should I do?

– Fed Up

Dear Fed Up: You should work with your therapist to assess your own risk if you attend this wedding.

Children raised by “borderline” parents or those who have narcissistic personality disorder are always on high alert. The extreme instability and genuinely frightening experiences of childhood can affect all of your other relationships.

My own advice is to work on your own boundaries and – most important – build in an “escape hatch” to any encounter with your mother.

This wedding is not the place to try to educate your siblings about your mother’s suspected disorder.

Dear Amy: We recently celebrated Easter with our families.

My husband and I have a precocious 7-year-old daughter whom we really enjoy. But any holidays or occasions where there are treats or presents seem to bring out the worst in her.

She rips through her gifts or treats and immediately starts complaining that there isn’t more.

I’m really sick of this. I am thinking of calling a halt to the abundance by basically not participating at all in “in-between” occasions like Valentine’s Day and Easter and really cutting down at Christmastime — but I’m not sure if that is the right response.

My husband and I agreed to let you weigh in.

– Gifting Mother

Dear Mother: First of all, for many people around the world, Easter is not an “in-between” occasion but an important religious holiday, and I think that some prudent, low-key education about what these holidays are supposed to celebrate might be helpful and interesting for your daughter.

Canceling a gift-giving holiday several months in advance will not mean much to a child your daughter’s age; it is best to respond in the moment to behavior you don’t like.

For instance, if you presented an Easter basket loaded with goodies and your daughter tore through them (common behavior for a child her age) and immediately started complaining that there weren’t more, you and your husband should express your own disappointment – calmly and decisively.

“Wow – you seem very unhappy. You have a lot of treats there, and if you’re not enjoying them, we will take them away until you can figure out how to enjoy the things that are right in front of you.”

Seven-year-olds are impulsive; that’s a characteristic that can make kids this age really fun to be with. The downside to this is that they are still learning how to modulate their behavior.

Right after disciplining your daughter, once she calms down, you should ask her if she understands how her behavior led to the consequence.

At Eastertime, you could also transition from giving a basket full of sweets, treats and trinkets to coloring and hunting for eggs and jellybeans, and giving flower seeds, small pots and soil for planting a window garden.

In advance of any holiday you should read stories associated with it, work on a craft project related to it, and review the guidelines for receiving gifts or treats, enjoying what you receive, and expressing joy and gratitude.

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Dear Amy: You ran a question from “The Enforcer” about a man trying to use his sister’s online RSVP to come to a wedding uninvited, after the sister said she couldn’t attend.

Why should this matter? It’s not like he would be adding to the numbers.

– Upset

Dear Upset: This isn’t about numbers. The marrying couple should decide exactly who their wedding guests are. Otherwise, we could all run around crashing wedding receptions.

You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.