Samara O'Shea, love columnist

Hi Samara,

I am getting married in a few months. I hate my fiance’s sister yet his mother wants her in the wedding and I really, really don’t. Should I have her in just because I don’t want bad feelings? My fiance doesn’t care but I am afraid that this will impact our future relationship with his family.

​Wedding Planning Blues


Dear Bummed Out Bride,

I’m sorry that you and your fiance’s sister don’t get along. That does make for some difficult wedding planning.

A friend of mine has a rocky relationship with her sister-in-law and any time she says something to her husband about “Your family…,” he corrects her and says, “Our family…” He’s right. When you marry, you don’t just get the man–like it or not–you get his whole family.

You say that your soon-to-be mother-in-law wants sis in the wedding and your fiance doesn’t care. Do you have any idea what the sister wants? Would you feel comfortable talking to her? If she doesn’t want to be in the wedding as much as you don’t want her to be, then maybe you could both approach her mother and discuss the situation as a united front. There needs to be a lot of maturity in place, however, for this to happen. If they’re passive aggressive people, this is an unlikely option.

If the thought of talking to the sister or the mother directly about the situation horrifies you, then I think there’s only one option left: Invite her to be in the wedding. It is a gesture of good will to your new family. Try not to let yourself be bothered by her antics during the festivities. Remind yourself that you’re taking one for the matrimonial team–it’s something you’ll do throughout your marriage.

Congratulations and good luck,



Caroline Wales, life advice columnist

Dear Caroline:

My twins were given a very big reading list this summer. They are not fast readers and don’t particularly like to read.  I want them to have a relaxing summer.  If they don’t read the books for the fall term, they will be behind. Can you recommend a way that I can help them get into reading while giving them a fun time this summer?



Dear Judy,

I think it goes without saying that all of us respond well to positive rewards. No matter how mature we become, the pleasures of accomplishment, acknowledgement, and praise usually tend to elicit a pretty good result and experience. A friend asked me this very question pretty recently and my answer was to think of a realistic reward system and let that work for you.

When I was about ten years old I had the same problem, I didn’t want to read at all, especially when an exciting summer lay ahead. But my stepmother was pretty clever; She picked out fifteen or so books for my summer reading and in each one she wrote a dollar amount, the smaller ones two dollars, the larger ones five. At first this wasn’t all that appealing, but when I considered all of the things I could buy that summer, mostly slices of pizza that I could share with friends by the local fishing damn, I started reading every night before bed.

Perhaps a monetary reward would work for the twins; maybe they’ve been saving their allowances for something special and this could sweeten the deal. Perhaps money is tight and a less realistic reward to offer, in which case you could think of all of the things you wanted to do with the kids this summer and by the end of each week, if they’ve each completed one book, the family gets to embark upon their next adventure together. Otherwise, much to their dismay and your
potential relief in having a small break, the weekend might be filled with chores and reading.

Summer break is definitely necessary for kids, for us all; it’s a time to get grounded, to reconnect with ourselves and nature, as well as family and fun. Still, discipline is a good lesson to learn, as you know, adults don’t usually get the summer off from life. We might as well ease them into it!

As far as an extensive reading list goes, like with any other work, you can only do one thing at a time and everyone has to find their own pace. I wouldn’t worry too much about the kids falling behind as long as they are consistently working on this goal. Maybe that means one hour of reading at a certain time, every day, if this kind of structure is necessary. Or maybe they are mature enough to co-create a schedule and weekly goal with you. Autonomy is a necessary part of growing up too. This could be a great exercise for all of you. And to that, reading fast is not necessarily an advantage. Studies have shown that some slower readers are actually just absorbing more detail. Still, the more we practice the more proficient we become.

Most important is to simply find a medium that works for each child, and then support them in their processes, knowing that each is going to be different. The key to maintaining that fun-filled summer while also meeting this goal is to minimize pressure. Make it fun. Make it worthwhile. It won’t be long, I assure you, before your kids will love reading. It only took one summer for me.