DEAR AMY: I am 24 years old. I am a happy person overall, but lately I’ve been feeling down. With everything going on in today’s world, and the state of society these days, it scares me at times. I felt safe in the ’90s. Not so much seemed to be happening back then. Life was simpler. Is what I’m experiencing normal, or is it something more?
Feeling Down in CT
DEAR FEELING DOWN: Life definitely felt simpler for you in the ’90s, because you were a child in the ’90s. Chances are that in 1997, for instance, your life revolved around getting through ninth grade.
I was an adult in the ’90s, and life did not necessarily seem better or simpler then — at least to me. Our national life ratcheted between good times and bad, calm times and scandal, peace and conflict.
What you are experiencing now might be a very real trough, or it might be your growing awareness of your own personal responsibilities and relative sense of powerlessness.
I do believe that people who feel overly worried, scared or depressed about national and international affairs would feel better by controlling the constant wash of news and fake news they are exposed to, and by getting off the couch and doing something.
Please take this opportunity to volunteer in your community and do your best to make this world a better place.
DEAR AMY: I have two children with my ex-husband. His parents only see our children at Christmas. These grandparents are only active in the lives of some of the grandchildren. Recently they invited our youngest child to a show, and I was excited that they had reached out. At the end of the call, after arrangements had been made, they told me that the cost of the outing would be $30. I was caught off-guard. My mom never asks for money when she offers to do something special with the kids. My children do not even receive birthday cards or phone calls from these grandparents, but I know that they are generous with their other grandchildren. Is it my responsibility to facilitate this relationship by paying for my kids to be included? I am not aware of any bad feelings between us, but I did opt out of sending my son to the show. Did I do the right thing?
DEAR CONFUSED: This is an expensive outing, but all the same, these grandparents came up with the idea, presumably made arrangements and initiated the invitation. Their efforts should have been acknowledged, and if you couldn’t afford (or didn’t want to pay for) the outing, you could have suggested an alternative. You could have invited these grandparents to your home or to a local concert, for instance.
It sounds as if your parents are doing a good job of being the kind of grandparents you want your children to have, but for some people, reaching across the divide of ex-spouses is very difficult. You don’t mention making an effort to include these grandparents in your kids’ lives. They are your former in-laws, and may need more overt encouragement than your own parents require. They have made an attempt, and now it’s your turn to reciprocate.
DEAR AMY: “Baffled Bride” didn’t know what to do about the guests who didn’t leave a gift at her wedding. Asking someone outright if they sent a gift could be embarrassing for everyone if the answer is “No.” Here’s how I handled it: I wrote a note to all of our wedding guests, saying, “Your presence at our wedding was such a beautiful gift. Thank you for being there to celebrate with us!” If they had sent a gift, this was a subtle way of telling them we hadn’t received it. If they hadn’t sent a gift, they got the appropriate thank-you for making the effort to attend.
DEAR HAPPY: I’ve heard from many brides (and grooms), who want the world to know that they understand that hosting a wedding is not a gift grab, but a celebration to be shared by a community. It is not a requirement that each wedding guest give a gift, pay for their own meal or submit to a demand to pay for the couple’s honeymoon. It is a kindness, not a quid pro quo.
It was gracious of you to thank all of your guests for making the effort to be with you on your special day.