While I'm away, readers give the advice.
When it comes to childproofing the house, it is all relative
M.B.: On grandparents who refuse to childproof their homes: For the people who believe you should teach 2- and 3-year-olds not to touch things that don't belong to them, the proper response is: "I can't get what is supposed to be a responsible adult to clean up obvious hazards in his house to protect his own grandchildren. What in the world makes you think I can teach a 3-year-old to do what you are suggesting?"
But that's just my opinion.
Generous response to one mother-in-law gets results
Florida: On domineering mothers-in-law — Happy Ending edition: My mother-in-law hated me. She liked my husband's previous girlfriend, so much so that the ex was invited for meals with the family when I was out of town, and on Thanksgiving my mother-in-law never set a place for me at the table.
We were married overseas, and during all the planning, she said she refused to come, and finally relented as everyone was boarding the airplane. She complained during the entire ceremony and was very critical of my side of the family. It was beyond humiliating and very hurtful.
My husband did a sit-down with his mother and gave her an ultimatum, but that only made her tolerable. My friends were full of advice — all about "getting even," "standing your ground" or making some quip that would "put her in her place."
So, I wrote her a letter.
I thanked her for the eternal gift she gave me by raising the remarkable man who chose me as his life mate. I told her I could only imagine the sacrifice she endured raising two sons and working so hard in the family business, and I figured no one had ever thanked her. I told her she did a great job — and that because of her efforts, I am also a better person. It was all true, and I mailed it.
She never mentioned the letter. In the years that followed, she warmed to me. On her deathbed, I was the one she asked for. I was the one she asked to tell her sons and husband to "let her go."
I have been married to her son for 27 years. Mailing that letter was one of my proudest moments. Our lives teach us who we are.
Another mother-in-law still struggles with relationship
Heavy heart: On domineering daughters-in-law: Admittedly I said some very bad things a few years ago, overreacting to what I perceived as a cold shoulder from my daughter-in-law. I have a serious mental illness, bipolar disorder.
As near as the next day, I was very contrite. I saw my doctor and followed his directions. Take a little gift, explain, apologize. I did all of that and more. It has been about four years now and nothing.
My son is a little friendlier than his wife, but not much. I understand his alliance is with her.
I think not to forgive can be a very heady power trip.
I can understand if I wasn't taking my meds or not admitting I was in serious error. I am not asking for the red carpet but just another chance and some faked friendliness until it becomes real. After all, I did give her the love of her life and helped him get some education so he could support her nicely.