Dear Amy: My sister-in-law says she is very allergic to cats. She lives six hours away from my Mom. My sister and I have cats and bring them with us when we visit our mom.
My sister-in-law asked us if we could put the cats behind a gate or upstairs when she and my brother visit.
We believe that our cats are our family members. We refuse to put our cats away just because someone wants us to.
Because of this, our sister-in-law stopped visiting.
Now she has a baby and this is the first grandchild in the family.
She again asked if we would put the cats away while she visits so my mom can visit with her granddaughter.
Again, we have refused to do this because our cats are just as important family members as her baby.
We told her that she should drop off the baby with my mom, sister and me and that she can relax at the hotel while we visit.
She has refused to do this, and now just doesn't visit. She tells my brother to visit whenever he wants, but that she and her baby will stay home.
My mom cannot drive to their house, and now my mom has not seen her granddaughter at all. She is very upset.
How do we fix this for our mom's sake, without giving up our principles?
We need help soon because my sister-in-law is pregnant with her second child and we haven't even met the first one!
-- Animal-loving Aunt
Dear Aunt: As a fellow cat-lover, I've often wondered why "cat ladies" sometimes get such a bad rap as being eccentric, sheltered and basically bananas.
Thank you for clearing that up.
You don't mention your brother's role in this. If he isn't allergic to cats, he could handle a visit with the baby.
This is not a matter of "principles." Given your collective attitude toward your sister-in-law, and your refusal to even attempt to make the house less toxic for her during a visit, she has no choice but to stay away. And no responsible mother would surrender her baby for an unsupervised visit with family members who are so obviously ill-equipped to care for a human.
If you want your mother to meet this grandchild, it would be kindest for you to drive your mother to your sister-in-law's house for a visit.
Dear Amy: My husband's entire family discusses the costs of their possessions. Not only do they openly blurt out how much they pay for everything, but they also must know how much everyone else pays for things.
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I grew up with the strict rule that it was rude to discuss someone's personal finances.
My husband's family, on the other hand, will undoubtedly ask what you paid for something. It makes me extremely uncomfortable.
I want to correct them! I want to say, "It's considered rude to ask someone that."
I asked my husband if I could politely say something. I explained to him how I was raised. He is used to them asking, and it took him a while (at my request) not to be so open about our finances.
He told me that it would be a bad idea to address his family on the matter, and that I would hurt their feelings. Meanwhile, it's gotten to the point where I try to hide things I've purchased. I even once tried to jokingly say, "I should wear price tags around you" -- to which I only got a deer-in-the-headlights response, while they waited for me to give them a price.
How can I get them to stop asking how much we/I have paid for things?
Dear Priceless: Your in-laws are behaving consistently across the board. Your assumption that you can find the perfect thing to say to them in order to force them to change is ... "rich."
You needn't tell them what is "considered rude." Obviously, in their world, this is not rude. It's how they relate.
Respond consistently and good-naturedly: "Aha! This? It's priceless. And you know -- I'll NEVER tell..."
Dear Amy: Oh, my heart broke reading the letter from "Troubled," who was not receiving any support from her church family after her family member was shot in the Las Vegas shooting.
I also attended a church where fellow members seemed cold and nonreactive.
I found a different church, and guess what? It's wonderful.
-- Happy Now
Dear Happy: I believe that congregations follow their clergy's lead regarding how they relate to one another.
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