Religious cards cause problem for family

Amy answers questions about handling religious beliefs with family, dealing with the guilt of...

Amy answers questions about handling religious beliefs with family, dealing with the guilt of losing a child, and eating disorders. (Fotolia)

Amy Dickinson, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:40 PM ET

DEAR AMY: My sister-in-law has been sending cards for "the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" to our Jewish family for holidays.

She sent one to my 11-year-old son for his birthday. Fortunately, I had a feeling it might be something like this and opened it before he did. I will tell him about it, but it is not something he would want and it is confusing.

Should I ask her to stop sending this to our family or just continue to preview the mail?

I'm not sure whether to accept it as an inappropriate blessing or be deeply offended. -- Confused Mom

DEAR MOM: This is a teachable issue for your son. At the age of 11, he should be aware that people come from different cultures and have different faith practices.

This gesture from your sister-in-law is confusing to you and so you should ask her about it. Here's a start: "Cathleen, you know we are Jewish, right? I'm afraid I don't know what a Mass card is or why you are sending them to us. Can you explain this?"

After that, then yes, if you don't want to receive these cards, you can say, "Can I ask you not to send these to us? It's really in conflict with our religion."

My understanding is that Mass cards are most often sent in memory of a deceased family member, although sometimes people also send them for birthdays or other special occasions.

Understand that once you have respectfully explored this and asked her to stop, she may continue because she sees this as an important part of her faith practice.

I vote for tolerance, but if you don't want these Mass cards coming into the house then you should intercept them fresh out of the mailbox.

DEAR AMY: Our daughter died recently. Because of specific medical issues she had, we were advised she could not be given sustenance in any form -- no feeding tubes, no IV fluids.

My mother-in-law felt we should be giving her fluids regardless of the doctors' directives.

At one point she informed me that we "were just murderers." This upset me greatly. The next day she attacked our son-in-law in the same fashion.

I feel an apology is in order, not only to us but to our son-in-law.

Am I wrong in expecting this? I have not spoken to her since the accusation, and frankly have no wish to do so, considering the circumstances. -- Grieving

DEAR GRIEVING: My sincere sympathies to your family for this painful loss. You don't say what your daughter's illness was (and I'm not a doctor), but I do know that sometimes hospice providers choose not to provide IV hydration to a dying person because it can cause discomfort and may not benefit the patient.

I'm assuming that your daughter is your mother-in-law's granddaughter and that she, too, is grieving. She is obviously lashing out and her statement is completely inappropriate and deeply wounding. I am in complete agreement with you: You are owed an apology.

Maintain radio silence until more time has passed and you can sort out your own feelings. Don't make any big statements until you feel more peaceful.

DEAR AMY: "Unsettled Grannie" was concerned about an annoyed granddaughter whose "Pappa" sends the granddaughter something around 10 texts a week.

Tell her the easiest way to get her Pappa to stop annoying her is for her to return the car, insurance and monthly stipend that he provides. That will stop his texts for sure!

Then send me his name, and I'll be glad to have him text me 10 times a day! -- WA Reader

DEAR READER: Many readers have volunteered to tolerate "Pappa's" texts in exchange for the obviously loving generosity he extends.

But you're all going to have to line up behind me. I call "dibs."

DEAR AMY: I want to offer my personal support to "Worried," the bulimic whose parents bully her over her weight.

I agree with what you said: She is ultimately responsible for her own recovery. If her parents undermine her every step of the way, she should distance herself from them. -- In Recovery

DEAR RECOVERY: Thank you for sharing your perspective.


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