Dear Abby: Family's help with child care comes at a cost

A mother is dealing with her parents who have different political views.

A mother is dealing with her parents who have different political views.

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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 Barack Obama 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.

Woman's parents continue to host unfaithful ex

DEAR ABBY: I divorced my cheating husband, but my mother keeps inviting him over to her and Dad's house. Not only does she invite him, she's now inviting one of the women he cheated on me with! She tries to justify it by saying she isn't going to keep him out of our daughter's life. Our daughter lives with my parents -- but she's 23 years old. Am I wrong to be angry and for telling my mom SHE was wrong for choosing him over me? Our daughter is an adult and can go to visit her father. -- CHEATED ON AGAIN IN COLORADO

DEAR CHEATED ON: Your mother entertains your husband and his "lady" friend (I use the term advisedly) because, for whatever reason, she can't let go of the relationship. Your feelings are justified. When the good Lord handed out mothers, he should have chosen one more supportive. This is why it's important for your emotional well-being that you move forward with your life. You can't control your mom, but you can control how much time you spend with her.

DEAR ABBY: Our family does not have a relationship with my son, "Josh." My sister occasionally asks me if I have heard from him and, when she does, she refers to him as "your son," never by his name. I can't imagine myself referring to my niece as "your daughter." I refer to her by her name. My sister is sensitive and doesn't take criticism well, so I don't know of a polite way to tell her how this offends me. It implies detachment, disinterest, distance. -- DISENGAGED AUNT

DEAR DISENGAGED AUNT: You say your family has no relationship with Josh. Your sister's refusal -- or inability -- to refer to him by his name doesn't just "imply" detachment, disinterest and distance -- it shouts it. It would not be out of line to tell your sister the next time it happens that you find it "hurtful" and ask her to please use Josh's name in the future.

DEAR ABBY: I got very sick in 2014 and spent six months in the hospital. I'm almost 100% recovered now and I'm grateful to all of those who supported me during this journey. Some family members helped out monetarily -- some in a large way, and others, small. I'm working part time and feel I should pay them back, although none of them has ever said a word about the money. What do you think? -- GRATEFUL GUY IN ILLINOIS

DEAR GRATEFUL GUY: Talk to your relatives. Tell them that although you are working only part time now, at some point you would like to repay their generosity. Some of them may agree; others may refuse. But there is more than one way to repay a "favor." Bear that in mind should a need of theirs come to your attention that does not involve money. And another thought: If you haven't written these generous people thanking them for helping you when you needed it so much, you should.

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.