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It takes two to turn down invitations

Question: I know that you have written often about families getting together for holidays and special events. But what do you think of a daughter-in-law who always has a reason she can't be with her husband's siblings, nieces and nephews?

My husband and I have four children, all of them married. Three of the couples join us every year for Christmas and Easter, and then the grandchildren (ages 7 to 15) come to visit by themselves as a group for three days in the summer.

No matter what time of year, no matter what we offer (including air fare), this daughter-in-law has a reason not to come with her family.

She does, however, go whenever her divorced parents ask her to attend (Thanksgiving, etc.).

By the way, she is willing to accept gifts for all her family from us, but she doesn't think she needs to give us any time. What do you think of her? _ Darned mad in Tampa

Answer: If you want to know what I think of her, the answer is, "Not much."

There are children (and children-in-law) who seem to assume that just producing kids is enough compensation for being a good grandparent.

You do have to remember, however, that she is one-half of a couple, and the other half of that couple is a son you don't seem to mention.

Any reason your son can't gather the kids (they sound as if they're old enough not to need mommy every minute) and come to the family events with them?

My guess is that your in-law problem isn't just your problem, so if any of you readers have found a way to bring reluctant in-laws into the family fold, I'll be happy to print your solutions.

Getting her dander up

Question: My mother-in-law has seven cats, and I have asthma.

If you know anything about this disease, you would know that it is not only uncomfortable but dangerous for me to be around dogs and cats (especially cats). So I never go to visit my mother-in-law, and she refuses to believe my reason.

I even have a problem if she comes to my house because her clothes are full of dander (the stuff cats shed that gets into everything and makes my chest tighten, my eyes water, etc.).

Anyway, being with my mother-in-law is dangerous to my health, but she doesn't believe a word of this. What should I do? _ Washington Worrier

Answer: Maybe you ought to get a note from your doctor.

We have this problem in our family, too, so I am aware of how difficult life can be for those with allergies and any respiratory condition.

But this is a reminder to all of us with grown children (including the writer of the letter preceding yours) that sometimes there are deep-seated reasons for what we consider unreasonable behavior.

Never too early for manners

Question: Three-year-old granddaughter Emily woke from a rare afternoon nap, and when Grandma offered her a snack, Emily said sweetly, "Thank you, Grandma, that is so very kind of you."

Unusual but lovely, isn't it? _ Shirley L. Dall, Arnold, Md.

Answer: The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and the thank-you doesn't come long after the snack.

Just another proof that it's never too early to teach the lessons of courtesy and caring.

If you want to ask a question, share your favorite grandchild story or comment on anything of interest to families, write: Lois Wyse, Maturity News Service, 1101 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 310, Washington, DC 20036.

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