Dear Amy: This Christmas, my husband's parents and their baby daughter came to stay with us.
The plan was that they would stay with us for three days and leave on Friday morning, as my husband and I both had to return to work on Monday.
On Christmas night they asked if I wouldn't mind babysitting their infant on Saturday, so they could make some personal visits in town.
This plan would have extended their stay for two more days and nights.
I looked at my husband and (on my behalf) he offered to put them up in a hotel for those nights.
Instead of agreeing to this, they left Thursday night instead of Friday morning, and his mother left behind the perfume I had given her as a gift.
The truth is that I wasn't in the mood to host them in the first place. I didn't want visitors over Christmas, but we made sure it was nice for them.
I get the side-eye when I tell this story. Was I wrong? How should I have handled this?
Dear Side-eyed: You need to realize that anyone can ask anything of you. But you shouldn't punish them for asking, when you have the option to respond with a respectful "no."
This request was a major one on your in-laws' part. Even though it seems that you and your husband did agree to babysit, you could have handled it differently by offering a truthful and respectful response: "Oh, I'm sorry, but we have to pivot toward our work week, and won't be able to do that. I wish you had asked earlier; we might have been able to work something out."
Or you could have declined to sit on Saturday but offered to sit on Friday until noon, so they could see some friends and then leave in the afternoon.
You present the offer of a hotel as a kindness of sorts, but it really was a tacit invitation for your in-laws to leave, and they took the hint.
You have definitely established yourself as someone who is not to be trifled with. If that was your goal, you have achieved it.
Dear Amy: My daughter recently got engaged and is planning her wedding. Her future in-laws have recently divorced and are not really speaking.
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We have no relatives in this country, so it's just the three of us. They come from a large European background with many distant and local relatives.
We are supporting whatever they want (and they are doing their homework).
Both families will be pitching in, and the future father-in-law is happy letting them make their choices.
However, the groom's mother wants a spreadsheet with comparisons of what they have already investigated, as well as a day looking at other venues with her son. She has decided that since they have the larger family, they should have the say.
The groom is trying hard to manage the middle ground, but it is creating a huge void, and I fear losing loving relationships going forward.
We have decided to have a meeting (with us, the couple, and the father-in-law) in a few weeks. We will invite the mother-in-law.
Any suggestions on how to tackle this challenge?
-- Worried Parents
Dear Worried: Calling a meeting sounds like a good idea, and yet ... what you are actually doing is inviting yourselves -- and these other parents -- into a process that should be controlled by the marrying couple. Ask yourselves, very seriously, what you hope to achieve and then ponder, very frankly, the likely outcome.
There might be cultural issues or traditions you want to honor, but -- generally speaking, modern marrying couples should make all of the major decisions regarding the wedding together, as a couple. Both sets of parents can be involved -- sometimes very involved -- but this should be at the behest of the couple.
The groom should never agree to look at venues without the bride.
This young man is going to have to do more than try to plow middle ground. Letting his mother run the show, and cutting his fiancee out of this process, establishes a terrible precedence.
Dear Amy: "K in Colorado" was upset because, at the age of 68, some people assume he is his young son's grandfather.
Thank you for pointing out that many grandparents are raising young children. My husband and I are in that group. We are tired, lonely, and we feel invisible.
Dear Gram: I see you. You are heroes to your family.
You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.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.