DEAR ABBY: I’m wondering if you can give me a tactful suggestion on how to get lingering family members to go home when I entertain. In times past, cousins stayed into the wee hours playing cards and were generally pretty noisy in my parents’ large home — all of which could go on for days.
Today, our relationships with certain family members are fairly strained, but . Any suggestions about how to let them know it’s time to return to their own homes? — BACK TO NORMAL IN THE EAST
DEAR BACK TO NORMAL: Try this: Stand up and say, “It has been fun getting together, but it’s time to call it a night. We need our rest if we are going to be productive tomorrow. Thank you for being with us. We’ll do it again.”
DEAR ABBY: three years ago, and I met someone shortly after. This man is kind and loving, and he treats me well. He happily moved with me to another state to be near my family. I’m 67, and he is 63. I’m retired, and hopefully have enough to live on for the rest of my life, although as everyone knows, anything can happen.
My concern is that this man gives his two children so much money every month that there’s none left over to help with any of our household expenses. He knows he will have to wean them off financially before he retires. I’m loath to ask him to stop, because I don’t want to lose him over this issue. However, I didn’t budget having to support him for the rest of my life.
He hasn’t saved any money for his retirement. When I’ve asked why he sends them all his money, he says that when he and their mom divorced, it upset them and he feels guilty (it has been 18 years!), or when he gets old and senile, they’ll care for him. When I mentioned that when he gets old and senile, I’ll ship him out to his daughter, he said she has her own life and won’t want him there. It’s driving me crazy! What do I do? — STRESSED RETIREE IN WASHINGTON
DEAR RETIREE: You must protect yourself — that’s what you do. Speak up and tell this kind, loving, generous freeloader that unless he’s prepared to pay his half of the household expenses, he will have to move. It may not be a pleasant conversation, but you will — not to mention financial ruin — if you assert yourself now. By the way, there are no guarantees his daughter would be willing to take care of her father when he’s old and senile. Many parents, to their dismay, discover that sad fact when it is too late.
DEAR ABBY: My daughter-in-law is a terrible housekeeper. I watch my grandchildren three days a week and am expected to drop them off at her house after I pick up the oldest (age 5) from school. It is troubling for me to see how dirty the house is, so I end up secretly cleaning. What’s the best way to address this with her? I could offer to help her with the housework a few hours a week. — TIDY IN TENNESSEE
DEAR TIDY: The best way to address this would be the direct approach. Ask your daughter-in-law if she has noticed that you have been helping to clean her house. If the answer is no, explain that you would be glad to continue helping out and you have a few hours a week to work with her, if she’s willing. You are a kind and considerate mother-in-law, and I hope she is appreciative.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.