Backstabbed by Mom

Dear Ms. Demeanor:

Before my grandmother died, she said that someday I would get the china she had that I so much loved. My mother had the same pattern, and, after Gram was gone, Mom took all the china. She would have had a minimum of 20 place settings all together. Now my daughter is getting married, and I asked to use 12 settings for the bride's table, but found out Mom has only eight settings! She sold most all of the china that would someday have belonged to me. I am so upset about it but haven't said too much to my parents yet. What do you suggest? This hurt me so deeply that I cried all day when I found out. (By the way, the same china was on my own bride's table.)


Dear Mother-of-the-Bride-to-Be:

Your disappointment probably knows no bounds, especially since you believed your mom understood your grandmother's long-term intentions and would live by them. You're walking a tightrope here, as you know. Creating distance between you and your mom during your daughter's wedding process can hurt everyone. Yet hiding your feelings will only make you resentful, and there's no way that won't come out somehow.

You must speak about this with your mother, when your daughter isn't there. Say something like, "Mom, I am very sad and upset that we can't use Gram's china for the bride's table. I thought you always understood that she intended for me to have all the china someday, passed down to me just like she passed it on to you. Please help me to understand why you sold the china and didn't tell me about it?"

Make sure that your words don't sound accusatory. Use "I" language. In other words, focus on what this means to you instead of talking about what she did. Remember that the minute we hear "You did..." we stop hearing and begin preparing our defense. Do your best to keep an open mind and accept her reasons. Let her know that reaching a level of greater understanding between you is important. Let her be a part of the wedding plans.

Unfortunately, you can't bring the china back, so you'll have to focus your efforts on moving ahead. Look at the big picture, and give your daughter the loveliest bride's table you can.

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