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Volatile aunt makes niece rethink wedding invite

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My aunt has a long history of being volatile with the family. She runs very hot and cold. I have very fond memories of her when I was a child. As a young adult, she has been generous toward me.

However, I also know many of these memories have hidden plot lines in which she has bullied my mother (her sister).

About three years ago my stepfather and grandfather died and suddenly my mom had to share a lot of responsibility with my aunt. The stress of caring for my grandma seems to have brought out the worst in my aunt.

It seems that each week she wounds my mother -- and my mother is NOT the sensitive type.

We have often just ignored or sidestepped my aunt in order to keep peace in the family. She always keeps at least one sister or cousin as a close ally, which keeps things messy. She responds to criticism or argument with cruelty and insults, and eventually the severing of ties.

I recently got engaged. I want all of my family members to be there and to be happy. Ideally, I would love for my (once) fun aunt to just be kinder to my mother and brother (she is generally nice to me).

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Should I NOT invite her, and risk some other guests (who might be aligned with her at that moment) also not coming? Do I call her out on her bullying and risk making things even harder for my mom while caring for her mother -- as she will be blamed for raising a bad kid?

Do I continue to pretend I don't see her being so awful? Help!

-- Broken-hearted Niece

Dear Niece: Invite your aunt to your wedding. Also, call her out, and do so in a firm, respectful way. The wedding invitation and the calling-out will not be related events, although she will likely conflate them.

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