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Annie’s Mailbox: Mom frets over son’s animosity

Dear Annie: Our two children are married with families of their own. The siblings used to get along quite well, but over the past few years, they hardly speak to each other. I don’t know what happened.

We threw ourselves an anniversary party, and our son refused to speak to anyone because we had missed his youngest son’s birthday celebration. The reason we didn’t attend was because our daughter had left her three little kids with us when she took a vacation. The kids were specifically not invited to the birthday party, so none of us could go. We explained this, but our son still feels we were in the wrong. Yet he rarely attends the birthday parties of his sister’s children.

I am dreading the holidays. Our son usually spends Christmas Eve with us and the following day with his in-laws. Our daughter has invited us to spend Christmas Day with her. I’d love to have them together, but my son tends to say “no” to any family celebration. Do we ask these two couples point blank what is happening or just ignore it? – Trying Not To Step on Toes

Dear Trying: These are your children. Talk to them individually. Ask what is going on and how you can help resolve the issues. Don’t accuse either of them of behaving poorly. Focus only on what would make things better. Frankly, your son sounds as if he is looking for reasons to be angry with his sister. That means he is likely to become defensive and, consequently, resistant to any of your suggestions. If that is the case, there’s not much you can do. But you won’t get anywhere if you don’t try. We hope they will listen to their mother.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.