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Dear Amy: My brother is getting married next year, and while I'm happy for him, I'm dreading the idea of having to see my mother. She ticks all the malignant narcissistic personality disorder boxes: emotionally immature and dysregulated, lacks empathy, disrespectful of boundaries, etc.

I suffered horrendously growing up, but I was able to get away in my 30s by leaving the country. My siblings have suffered in various ways, too. Our experiences growing up have meant that we are not close. This is partly because our mother has bad-mouthed us to each other over the decades.

I'm tempted to not go to my brother's wedding, but that doesn't seem right. I'm scared my mother will create drama and blame me while victimizing herself. I'm losing sleep over it, and the wedding invites haven't even been sent out yet. What should I do?

Amy says: You should work with a therapist to assess your risk if you attend this wedding. Children raised by parents who have NPD are always on high alert. The extreme instability and frightening experiences of childhood can affect all of your other relationships.

My advice is to set your own boundaries and build in an "escape hatch" to any encounter with your mother.

Holiday overload

Dear Amy: My husband and I have a precocious seven-year-old daughter. Occasions where there are treats or presents involved seem to bring out the worst in her. She rips through her gifts or treats and immediately starts complaining that there isn't more.

I'm sick of this. I am thinking of calling a halt to the abundance by cutting down on the big gift holidays (Christmas and her birthday) and ignoring the others (among them Valentine's Day and Easter), but I'm not sure if that is the right response. What do you think?

Amy says: I think that some prudent, low-key education about what the holidays are supposed to celebrate might be helpful and interesting for your daughter. In advance of the holiday you should read stories associated with it, work on a craft project related to it and review the guidelines for receiving gifts or treats, enjoying what you receive, and expressing joy and gratitude.

Canceling a gift-giving holiday several months in advance will not mean much to a child your daughter's age. It is best to respond in the moment to behavior you don't like.

For instance, if you presented an Easter basket loaded with goodies and your daughter tore through them (common behavior for a child her age) and immediately started complaining that there weren't more, you and your husband should express your own disappointment — calmly and decisively: "You have a lot of treats there, and if you don't enjoy them, we will take them away until you can figure out how to enjoy the things that are right in front of you."

Once she calms down, you should ask her if she understands how her behavior led to the consequence.

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