DEAR ABBY: I have suffered from allergy-induced asthma for 10 years. It becomes a problem only on the major holidays when we visit my mother-in-law. She has two cats and poor ventilation in her house. For years, I have followed my doctor's treatment of inhalers and allergy remedies with slight success.
This last year the prevention methods didn't work. My breathing was labored for several hours after leaving my mother-in-law's house. I am now considering not attending these holiday gatherings unless they are held elsewhere. Any suggestions? -- FEELING WELL (FOR NOW) IN BUFFALO
DEAR FEELING WELL (FOR NOW): I don't know how many family members attend these gatherings, but perhaps it's time to suggest to the rest of the family that everyone take turns hosting the holiday events. If they don't already know about your allergy-induced asthma, they should be told. To start the ball rolling, you could host the first event. If that's not acceptable, for the sake of your health, you and your spouse should start some holiday traditions of your own.
DEAR ABBY: I have wanted to write you for some time and never had the courage, but now I really need some advice, so here goes:
I married "Wyatt" five years ago. I have two children from a previous marriage, a 20-year-old (not living at home) and a 17-year-old son who has just left because of my husband. I love my children dearly, and I did love Wyatt. But every hurtful, spiteful, mean thing he has said to them has slowly chipped away at any feelings that I had for him.
Abby, I want to leave my husband and get an apartment for myself and my son. How do I do it? How do I tell him I want out without starting a war? -- NEEDS ANSWERS IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR NEEDS: Because your husband is hurtful, spiteful and mean, you will need to protect yourself before telling him the marriage is over. Prepare an escape plan in advance. You will need money, any financial information you can gather and the help of an attorney. And contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline -- (800) 799-7233 -- for guidance on how to safely make your exit.
DEAR ABBY: My dilemma is how to deal with rude, obnoxious children whose parents allow them to get away with bad behavior. In my home, I have learned to tactfully tell the kids, "We don't jump on couches, bang on pianos or turn the TV on and off." However, what do I do when visiting a parent whose 8-year-old constantly butts into the conversation and tells the parent and me to be quiet? Of course, the parent stops the conversation and gives in to the child! Do I just suffer through this annoyance, or is there something I can say or do? -- TIRED OF BAD BEHAVIOR IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR TIRED: You can suffer through the annoyance and grit your teeth, or socialize with the parent while the child is in school or involved in some other activity. Or, schedule your visit away from the parent's home and when the child is with a sitter. As a last resort, manage to see less of the parent until the child becomes a teenager and is no longer constantly underfoot and competing for attention. But do not criticize a child's behavior in the home of his or her parent.