Momma Bear

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m a single mom whose outstandingly great daughter is graduating
this week. I have relatives coming from around the country to
celebrate. My problem: a house full of redheads is too many
opinionated folks under one roof. We call my mother’s sisters The
Generals because they all think they’re in charge of everyone and
everything. Each of them thinks she knows knows best, whether it’s a
potato salad recipe or seating arrangements at the high school. They
can put on a polite face for about an hour before they explode. Living
with them is like being in a brewing hurricane. One wrong word can
lead to years of bickering and backbiting. How can I get through this
without having it ruined for Sophia and me?

Momma Bear

Dear Momma Bear:

You need to pin extra stars to your collar and out-general the
generals. As you pick each one up at the airport (or greet them in the
driveway), you need to have The Talk. The Talk goes something like
this: I know you like to be in charge. While I often agree with your
opinions, I also know that not everyone does. So listen up! I’m going
to say it once now and hopefully not have to say it again. This is not
the week for fighting and bickering. This week is not about you, and
not about any of the rest of the family trying to be more right than the
others. This week is about Sophia!

You should continue by saying you don’t want to be distracted trying
to play traffic cop, referee, or range boss. You want to be able to enjoy
your daughter’s success and share the warmth presence of family. Tell
them firmly that if they’re even so much as snippy to one another that
you’ll ask them to leave. Ask them to park their egos at the door. If
they want to compete, they should vie to be the nicest, sweetest,
kindest, and most loving guests that they can be. Perhaps you’ll
inspire them to channel their natural competitiveness into a new
direction. If not, don’t back down. Grown-ups, even hot-tempered
ones, should learn to set a good example.