Dear Annie: I've been out of work for two years. My family has suffered greatly, and my daughter's mild depression turned severe when this started affecting her life.
Recently, my in-laws were kind enough to let the three of us move in so we could save what little we have. But the summer could not have gone worse. My mother-in-law has turned into a bully. She doesn't approve of how I raise my daughter and has been taking it out on the child. Mom calls her hurtful names and has told her that all of our financial problems are her fault. My husband has spoken to his mother numerous times, and I have, as well. But she is stubborn.
My daughter has a history of self-harm and low self-esteem, so we began to work on alternate living situations. Sadly, I know the best place for my daughter right now is not with her stepfather and me. I've been the one to support her and be there her whole life. Now she's living with her biological father, and it breaks my heart. He's a good dad, but I feel like I let her down.
I write today because I am having a hard time forgiving my mother-in-law. I understand that our conflicting parenting styles can be hard on her in her house. What I can't understand is why she's taking it out on my daughter. -- Mother in Mud
Dear Mother: You made the right choice to get your daughter out of the home of your bullying, stubborn mother-in-law. While we would have recommended that your husband put his foot down a little harder, apparently neither of you could set boundaries that stick. Until this situation is resolved, it may not be possible to forgive the woman for her unconscionable behavior. Please find a way to get out of there as soon as possible.
Dear Annie: I've been with "Hank" for what seems like a hundred years. He is an alcoholic and a drug user. Last year, in an effort to save our marriage, he was in and out of several rehabs. None worked.
Here's the real problem. While in rehab, he relapsed and was kicked out, along with several others. I refused to pick him up, so all of them stayed in a hotel room together. While there, Hank used one of the other addicts (a female) to get drugs and alcohol. He promised her that they were going to be together.
Hank is a great father to our children, but I cannot find it in my heart to let this go. He claims there was no affair, but I don't believe it. It is weighing heavily on my heart. How can I forgive him? -- Lost
Dear Lost: Addicts say and do whatever they have to in order to score what they need. Your problems are bigger than whether or not Hank slept with another woman. He may love his children, but he is a terrible role model. Until he gets clean and sober, he is no good to any of you. Please contact Al-Anon (al-anon.alateen.org) and Nar-Anon (nar-anon.org) and ask for help.
Dear Annie: I had to respond to "Not a Meanie," whose sister misinterprets everything she says. I could have written that. My sister hears only what she wants to hear. When making plans for anything, large or small, "Ellen" would hear something entirely different from what I said. She would then complain to our middle sister, and it could take weeks to fix the misunderstanding.
My solution was to email all plans to Ellen and copy our other sister. Then there was a written record and no chance of my looking like the bad guy. "Meanie" should try this. It will save her a lot of frustration. -- Been There in Hamden, Conn.
Dear Hamden: This is a great idea -- as long as you communicate only in writing.
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2012. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.