Dear Abby: At child’s 1st birthday party, mom wants to photograph her opening gifts

The first-time mother has invited lots of people to celebrate the big day.

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DEAR ABBY: As a first-time mom, I am a late bloomer. My daughter turns 1 in a few weeks. We are thankful to be able to have a first birthday party celebration for her. Quite a few people are coming. After not being able to have a baby shower because of the pandemic, this will be the first gathering having anything to do with my only child.

My question is, do we open gifts at the party? My concern is, it’s already a lot for a 1-year-old, and forcing her to open presents with people staring at her seems daunting. Will people get bored watching that?

The party is in a park with a nice playground, and we will be providing food, games, desserts and other activities. I am an avid thank-you card writer and have thought about taking pictures of her opening her gifts, and sending the gifters the photo with the card the next day. What do you think? — UNSURE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR UNSURE: Because you are late to motherhood, discuss this with friends or relatives who are more experienced. Your idea is sweet, but your 1-year-old is too young to open any of her presents. (You might have her try to open one or two, but don’t count on it.) She’ll likely be far more interested in the birthday cake. If you put it in front of her, don’t be surprised if she face-plants into it. Her attention span will be short and she may need a nap to head off a meltdown, so be prepared. Your idea of including a picture of her opening her gifts is a good one, but save it until she is older.

DEAR ABBY: My sister, who had epilepsy as a small child in the 1970s, now uses her disease as a weapon against the rest of the family. I am at my wits’ end about what to do about the way she mistreats our 83-year-old mother. She no longer is treated for epilepsy, and her childhood memories about the way she was treated are wrong. If anything, she was spoiled and babied far too long because of her sickness. She claims she has PTSD, uses pot to self-medicate and refuses to go to a doctor for help. Instead she blames everyone else for her “terrible childhood.”

My other two siblings and I do not agree with her that she grew up in a “broken home.” She continually rehashes misremembered things from 50 years ago and uses them for fuel to rationalize why she is so messed up. Her mental illness is getting worse, and it’s affecting everyone around her. I love her, but I can’t stand to be around her anymore. Should I encourage Mom not to have any more contact with her? Please help. — INTOLERABLE IN TENNESSEE

DEAR INTOLERABLE: Your sister appears to have more wrong with her than her history of epilepsy. You should share this fact with your mother if she is being emotionally abused. If you feel the abuse extends further than that, a place to safely report it would be the Eldercare Locator helpline (800-677-1116). It will then be up to your mother to decide how much exposure to this troubled daughter she is willing to tolerate.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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