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Future in-laws want their fair share of holidays

DEAR AMY: Our son and his girlfriend are approaching engagement. They live in the same city we live in. The subject came up as to allocating holidays between their respective families. My husband and I are still together after 35 years. Her parents are divorced. Her mother lives within driving distance of us, and her father lives on the opposite coast. We have always felt that the holidays should be allocated 50-50; every other year to his parents and half to her parents . . . and that she and they would need to decide how to allocate her half. Unfortunately, she sees it differently. We don’t want this to cause any sort of a rift between us and her, or our future in-laws, but we don’t exactly know how to handle it without just giving in. Giving in would leave us feeling as though we’re being punished for staying married (which at times we had to do the hard work to accomplish). We love our son’s girlfriend and are very much in favor of their relationship. Is there any kind of normal expectation in today’s divorce-rich society? We’d really like to know what is considered reasonable in this situation.

Devoted and Caring ParentsDEAR DEVOTED: Here is the holiday norm for adult children in our “divorce-rich” society: Exhaustion, frustration, and the very opposite of that “holiday spirit,” as they race back and forth between constituencies of parents, all of whom love them very much, but many of whom become like demanding toddlers fighting over a sticky candy cane on Christmas morning.

You wonder if “giving in” to this young person’s reality would mean that you are being punished for putting in the hard work of staying together. I wonder if you have a clue, or could even imagine, how this sentiment sounds to the child of divorced parents, or to divorced people themselves.

This young woman’s parents’ divorce is not her fault or responsibility, but she has needs, and she is going to have to fulfil them, regardless of what you think about it. So “giving in” (or not) should be off the table for you.

If her mother lives within driving distance, perhaps you could invite her to join you during “your” years — and you could start a new tradition with new family members. But then, of course, you would have to welcome a divorced woman into your home, and share these young people with her.

If you love this young person, the best gift you could give to her would be to let her do what she needs to do over the holidays, without comment or complaint, or even a pained look on your face.

Life does not evenly distribute its hardship and joys, and so you should stop keeping score. DEAR AMY: After eight years as a divorced father, I found a wonderful partner who has moved in with me. It has been great! We are engaged and will get married in a few months. I also have a 16-year-old daughter, “Emma,” who decided to move in with us full time after a few dust-ups with her mother. It is great that she is here, and she is happier now. But now, with the excitement of a relatively new relationship, my gal and I are having a hard time finding “alone time” with my daughter here. It is almost like I have to give Emma some money and the car keys, and then hope the mood at home turns romantic instantly. We tried this once and Emma came home a bit too early and interrupted an “event.” I’ve tried to get Emma and her mom to make up so my fiancee and I can have more alone time, but I really do like having her here. Do you have any ideas besides sending my daughter away often and scheduling date nights at home?

EagerDEAR EAGER: I suggest an occasional nooner, and also a sturdy lock on your bedroom door.

I assume that at least some of the “events” you are referring to can be done discreetly with your daughter in the house.

DEAR AMY: Thank you and Paula Poundstone for trying to help the boy who signed his letter “Addicted to Games.” My once bright and engaged young son became lost to his gaming addiction. I wouldn’t have thought this was possible until I saw it happen in my own family.DistraughtDEAR DISTRAUGHT: I’m so sorry. Familiesmanagingmedia.com is a source for insight, suggestions, and help.

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