DEAR ABBY: My in-laws have invited themselves to stay at our house over a long weekend. They told us the time and day they are arriving -- and that their airplane tickets are non-refundable.
My husband and I think they are coming on the pretense of spending our son's birthday with him. They have never come to any of our son's birthday parties before, nor have they called him (or us) on birthdays or any other holidays.
We suspect that we are being used as a hotel, and I am concerned their coldness and indifference will hurt our son's feelings.
Abby, there has been tension between my husband and his family and me ever since we got married. My mother-in-law does not respect anyone's privacy. She has been known to walk into rooms and go through cupboards and drawers she has no business going in.
Do we have to let them stay in our house? -- TIRED OF BEING USED
DEAR TIRED: Bear in mind that your in-laws could be coming to try to mend fences. However, you are under no obligation to have anyone under your roof who isn't welcome.
If you're concerned that the tension could be upsetting for your son, suggest that your in-laws stay at a nearby motel. Offer to make the reservations for them. At that point, you'll find out if their plane tickets are truly non-refundable.
DEAR ABBY: I am six months pregnant and will soon create a registry for baby gifts. I am not planning a baby shower, but would like to have the registry available to those who wish to buy gifts.
How do I let friends and family know I have a gift registry without also inviting them to a shower?
Without seeming rude, how can I let people know they can buy me gifts? It seems the only acceptable way to ask for baby gifts is to throw a party and send your registry card along with the invitations. -- MOM-TO-BE
DEAR MOM-TO-BE: To include a gift registry card with an invitation is considered a blatant request for a gift, and any blatant bid for gifts is a breach of etiquette.
Please remember that people don't "owe" you a gift simply because you are about to become a mother. Your friends and family are aware that they may buy you gifts without your having to mention it. Unless you want to appear greedy, say nothing about gifts unless someone asks you what you need for the baby.
DEAR ABBY: When my daughter lived here with her father and me, we always had a hard time getting her to stay home -- even for dinner. Now that she has moved out, she's over here every day, even at mealtimes! Without making her mad or hurting her feelings, how can we tell her she doesn't have to visit every single day? -- HER PARENTS IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR PARENTS: Your predicament illustrates one of life's ironies: As children grow older, they can't wait to assert their independence and leave home. However, adult children who have left home for the first time often go into "economic shock" when they start paying for their own food, utilities, etc.
Speak up and begin putting some limits on your daughter's visits back to the nest. Set up one specific time during the week for dinner or a visit. If you don't begin to draw the line, it may be years before you can enjoy your privacy.
Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Booklets, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)
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