Life Advice



Clashing Values With My In-Laws

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: My daughter is the only grandchild, and my mother gives her a gift every time we see her. I've told her several times that we don't want to overwhelm our child (3 years old) with material things, that she has too many toys she doesn't play with. It's very important to my husband and I that our child values what she has. My mother is single and very sensitive. Either she ignores what I say or cries. My husband is getting annoyed with the amount of things coming home and berates me for not standing up for our ideals more strongly. How can I address this? -- Caught in the Middle

Dear Caught in the Middle: Grandparents love to spoil their grandkids. It's part of what makes being a grandparent such a gift; all of the fun, none of the discipline! That being said, I can understand why you don't want your child to grow accustomed to receiving material things every time she sees Grandma.

Tell your mother that you love how much care and attention she is giving your daughter, and explain the values you are trying to instill. Suggest some other ways your mother can spoil her granddaughter -- taking her to the beach, taking her out for ice cream or playing a game with her.

Dear Annie: I'm dealing with a family feud that's really been weighing on me. My sister, "Sarah," and I have always been close, but a recent disagreement over our late father's estate has driven a wedge between us. Our dad passed away unexpectedly in a car crash, leaving behind a sizable inheritance that includes our childhood home.

Sarah believes the house should be sold and the proceeds split evenly between us. But I have strong sentimental attachments to the house! It has so many memories with our dad. This disagreement has escalated into many arguments, some of which have gotten pretty nasty.

Our mother, who is caught in the middle, is upset by the rift between her two daughters. She's urging us to find a compromise but it doesn't look like either of us is ready to budge.


How can we resolve this? I want to honor our father's memory while also respecting my sister's wishes. -- Divided Daughters

Dear Divided: It's understandable that both of you have strong emotions tied to your childhood home, and it's also important to recognize that grief can amplify the tension in these situations. The guidance of a neutral mediator or estate planner could help facilitate a constructive conversation. Remember, compromise doesn't mean giving up what's important to you entirely; it's about finding a solution that respects everyone's feelings and honors your father's memory. House or no house, you will always be connected to him.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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