Ask Amy: It's never too early to talk turkey

Dear Amy: My sister-in-law informed me a few weeks ago that our family of three won’t be invited for Thanksgiving this year.

The reason is because she’s having 10 people, including her sons’ families (three each) and her husband’s two grown single kids. Her brother (my husband) is left off the list, but she made a point of informing me of this, not him.

He’s upset and wants to talk to her. Last year she implored us to join them because it was just her and her husband.

My teenage daughter would love to see her cousins, who have babies.She has a very close relationship with this particular aunt and explaining not being invited is tricky and hurtful. Our home is much smaller than theirs, and we’ve entertained more than twice that number at one time. We would stay in a hotel and, of course, help and bring whatever.

What would you do in this situation?

Amy says: Apparently, for some families, it’s never too early to get started when it comes to having holiday problems.

Your husband should speak to his sister. She obviously put the word out months in advance for a reason: She either really doesn’t want your family of three to be with them, or she is setting herself up to be talked out of it.

The way you frame this, her choice is very silly.

I think you should wait until at least October to discuss it with your daughter at all. When you do, simply say her aunt has made a choice, and you’re not sure why, but it is what it is and you’ll have to make an alternate plan this year.

Rebuilding self-esteem

Dear Amy: I tell my daughters every day that they are smart, beautiful, talented and loved. Recently, a “friend” in my daughter’s third-grade class has been telling my daughter that she is stupid, ugly and useless.

I talked to the girl’s mother, and the behavior has gotten better.

I’ve also encouraged my daughter to spend time with people who would actually value her friendship, and she seems to be listening. The problem is that now when I tell my daughter how wonderful she is, she shrugs and says, “You have to say that, you’re my dad. It’s not true.” This breaks my heart, and I don’t know what else to do. Thanks for your advice.

Amy says: First of all, props for being an involved dad. Your closeness with your daughters will resonate for the rest of their lives.

I think you should play a game: Ask your daughter to use five words to describe herself and then you. Then you do the same. Back up your descriptions of her with examples.

She got knocked down, but she knows you’re in her corner. She needs some time and TLC to recover.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com.

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