DEAR ABBY: I am a mother of four (soon to be five) young children. It is exhausting. My husband helps as much as he can, but sometimes we both need a break. My parents offer to watch the kids. The problem is, my parents and I have opposite political and world views. Sometimes they’ll say things to my children like, “You’re such a ditzy girl, you better find a good husband!” Or call a former president “the devil.” My husband and I have very different opinions than they do, and we worry about their influence on our children. But, honestly, sometimes we need their help. I don’t think they can keep their opinions to themselves, but I don’t want them anywhere near my kids, either. Is it hypocritical to accept their help? – Different Views in New Jersey
DEAR DIFFERENT: Because you need their help and they are willing to babysit “the grands,” I don’t consider accepting it the least bit hypocritical. Your children are too young to know who the president is, and are not likely to place any importance on what your parents say about him.
I do, however, take issue with planting the idea in a little girl’s head that she is a “ditz” and that her only goal in life should be to marry anyone. Your daughter is growing up in a very different world than the one your mother was raised in. These days, girls are expected to follow their own path, get an education, work and become independent. Marriage, if it happens, comes later.
You and your husband should tell your children (in an age-appropriate way) that their grandparents love them, but have different ideas about things than Mommy and Daddy do. Then reinforce that they are smart, honest, good and any other virtues you would like to implant in their little heads.
DEAR ABBY: I am married to a man from an affluent family. I love my in-laws and enjoy hosting dinners for them. My gay brother-in-law, “Karl” – who is my favorite person in the group – is seeing a guy, “Warren,” who is 30 years younger. Their relationship is on and off. Warren usually shows up when it’s convenient or when he wants money.
My problem is, when I invite the family, Karl always asks if he can bring his boyfriend. Each time Warren shows up, I become anxious because he has no social graces. At all. He cuts people off at the buffet line, picks through pieces of meat on the serving platter looking for the “best” cut and acts like he hasn’t eaten for days. I want to continue inviting Karl, so should I be honest and say, “Please do not bring your boyfriend,” or stop hosting family dinners? – Anxious in California
DEAR ANXIOUS: If you invite Karl and tell him not to bring Warren, the chances are he will refuse your future invitations. What you might do, however, is mention to him that his boyfriend’s social graces could use some “polishing,” and note what he does at the buffet. It’s possible that he “acts like he hasn’t eaten for days” because you are such a terrific cook he can’t keep himself from scarfing. Or maybe it has been a while since he’s had a square meal.
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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.