While I'm away, readers give the advice.
In-laws deserve respect
On tetchy relations with your in-laws: If people want to change their in-laws' behavior, maybe they should start with their own. Specifically:
(1) Do you ever invite your in-laws to your home just for dinner, or take them out somewhere? Or do you have frequent get-togethers where other family members are invited and they are excluded?
(2) Do you call your husband three times per half-hour to ask when he will be home every time he visits his folks?
(3) Do you call regularly just to see how they are? Do you offer to help with housework or errands when they are under the weather, or is all your communication just about your needs?
(4) When do you call? Do you set up visits with the grandkids two weeks in advance? Or do you hire another sitter and call gram and gramps when your sitter bails an hour before curtain time?
(5) Have you taught your children good manners and common courtesies? Do they know the meaning of the word "no"? Do they know how to write a thank-you note? Do they say please and thank you and respect boundaries, like which rooms are theirs to play in and which are private? Or do they track in mud, reprogram the buttons on the car radio and spit food back on their plates if they don't like it?
(6) What is your spouse's relationship with his/her parents? Does s/he treat them like outsiders? Do you think they somehow owe it to you to be at your beck and call? Maybe they aren't feeling the love for a reason.
(7) Even if you do change your behavior, don't be surprised if it doesn't work if the only reason for the change is for your own benefit. You won't likely be fooling anyone.
As you might have guessed, I have a similar situation. And actually, No. 4 has been the most critical issue.
I love all of my grandchildren, even when they behave badly, and I will overlook much of my daughter-in-law's behavior to spend time with them if I can.
And I am quite capable of teaching my grandchildren how to behave in my home, but I simply draw the line at changing my plans at the last minute.
Treat everyone as an equal
On service professions: I am an executive secretary. I love my job and the people I work with. Many days, they do not know what they would do without me, and would get much less done if I were not here. I help them, and I save them time, and I assist in many valuable ways. What is wrong (or substandard) about that?
What is it about people that they look down on those with (what they perceive to be) menial or service-oriented jobs?
What would we do without the person who hauls away our trash, the person who repairs our car, the person who stands on her feet all day so she can serve us a meal we complain about?
We should stop admiring the gleaming buildings that stand before us begging for our attention, and pay more attention to what is holding them up.