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Relatives can’t stomach another visit

DEAR ABBY: We have grown children and a grandchild who live several states away. The problem is, we don’t enjoy visiting them. Our son’s wife has an eating disorder. She’s obsessed with what she is going to eat next, eats some of the strangest raw vegetable combinations we’ve ever heard of and has our grandchild following suit. The child is forbidden to eat several of the foods kids like to eat.

Our son is also part of this. He is losing weight and muscle mass, and thinks he is healthy. When we visit, and it’s been years, we have to shop for a lot of food or take everyone out to eat so we can eat, which presents challenges because of their diet preferences.

My DIL is not a gracious host and lingers over her plate, which sometimes takes an hour after everyone else has finished eating. She’s very underweight, and I’m concerned about our grandchild, especially since they balked at a beautiful roasted turkey I made at a family gathering. (Two days later, she asked for “seconds” because others were eating it.)

How do we visit and stay with them under these circumstances? I really miss my son and grandchild during the holidays, but I can’t get my husband on board because he is so outraged about the bizarreness of the situation. Having a heart-to-heart with our son would definitely put him on the defense. – Wasting Together Time

DEAR WASTING: You aren’t going to change your son or his wife, so the alternative is to accept them for who they are – which may be vegan or vegetarian. If you decide to visit them, be prepared to stay in accommodations other than their home. Take food out of the equation and eat at your hotel or rental. If you decide to host any meals, do it at a restaurant of their choosing, and tell your husband to curb his temper. Try it next time and your visit may turn out better.

DEAR ABBY: I am not exaggerating – my friend always has to be No. 1 and first. She offered to help our queen mother in the Red Hat Society hide eggs last Easter, then went to gather them all herself. She also gets mad when she doesn’t win a costume contest at the senior center and hates when someone else wins a raffle.

I won’t go into everything, but she must win at everything and be the center of attention. During the last Easter egg hunt, I tried to pull her away from the door so she couldn’t see, but she eventually snuck through and won the egg hunt. I don’t understand her behavior. What can I do? – Embarrassed in Texas

DEAR EMBARRASSED: Your friend appears to have an insatiable need for attention and a willingness to cheat to achieve her goal. Nothing you can do will change her. She is who she is. What you can do, in order to lower your level of frustration, is refuse to engage with her at Easter, Halloween or any activity in which you know she won’t play fair.

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.