By Alma Gill

NNPA Columnist

Inviting His Former In-Laws to Our Wedding

Dear Alma,

I am having my second marriage. My fiancé and I are in our early 40s. His first wife died and he has been raising their 14-year-old daughter as a single parent for the past six years. The two of them have a rock-solid relationship with her maternal grandparents, and I think that’s great. His daughter and I get along well, and she seems excited about us getting married. His in-laws are cordial toward me. The mother has broken down and cried at family functions we’ve attended because she misses her daughter, and I can fully understand that, as I am a mother too. My fiancé and I have been through a lot, and we see our wedding as a new blessing. My question is: Do I have to invite his ex in-laws? He added them to our guest list, but I’m having reservations.

G.C.,  Portland, Oregon

Hey now GC, congratulations on your wedding! I know you’re excited. As can be expected, nestled in your stream of excitement are a few gravel stones pinching at the bottom of your feet. In all the planning and preparing, you want to make sure you’ve got everything covered. That’s what brides do. But hold up, my sista. The emotions and reactions of your guests can be crossed off your to-do list.  Listen to what I’m saying for just a minute. I know you want your moment. It’s your day, and I totally agree that it should be, and will be, all about you. Tears will be flowing from both sides of the aisle: Tears from your mother, her mother, best friends who are happy for you, girlfriends who wish they were getting married and, ok, let me stop right there; you get the picture.  Women cry at weddings all the time, and for many reasons. Her mother won’t be the only one dabbing her eyes. I’m sure this woman is gracious enough to get through the wedding and pull herself together to attend the reception. Otherwise, she would surely decline your invitation. She’s grown up enough to determine what her grief will allow.  It’s gonna be your day, so don’t feel you have to compete with a woman who will never step foot on this planet again. On the day of your wedding, you – yes you, the beautiful bride – will be Queen of the day!


It’s Time for Mother to Leave

Dear Alma,

My mother and I have a decent relationship. She was on drugs when I was growing up, but she’s stopped and is doing fine. She is healthy and able. She lives with me and my kids. She doesn’t pay rent or help with the kids. I’m 36 and she’s 55. When she moved in I thought it was temporary and wanted to help her get on her feet. Now she says she should be able to stay as long as she wants and not have to pay any bills because she’s my mother. I love my mother and I want the best for her, but I feel guilty that I want her to leave. What should I do?

Help me, Chicago, Ill.

Hello Dear Heart,

Unfortunately there’s some sweet and sour in your “mama drama” soup. The sweet is obvious –   your mom was able to quit her habit and the two of you have a good relationship. What a blessing!  The sour is obvious, too – your mama is taking advantage of you. She’s introduced you to the “guilty club,” as if it’s a Girl Scouts meeting. Mama’s gotta lotta nerve and knows exactly what she’s doing.  She’s playing on your heartstrings, and it’s time to stop the music.  Tell her, point blank: “Mama, you gotta go. I’ll help you find a place, but you need to leave within the next 90 days.”  This is a tough conversation to have, and I don’t envy you at all, but you’ve got to do it.

Right now you’re enabling her. Do you know what that is? That’s when a well-meaning loved one helps to the point that they strip the other person of all responsibilities and the person become completely reliant upon you.  That’s not what you intended, I know, but that’s how it unfolds.  Your mom is still a healthy, young woman. She can find her own place and move out of your space. Remind her that you’ll be there when she’s well-seasoned and aged, but for right now she’s on her own.  If you feel the need to continue to help her in some way, add her to your cell phone plan and pay the bill. There are many ways to help besides having her live with you.  Don’t feel guilty. You’re doing the right thing – for you and for your mama.


Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to:  Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.


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