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Opposing Parenting Styles Are Cause of Family Fracture

DEAR ABBY: My husband's sister "Cassie" and I got along well until we had kids. Our children are months apart in age, and parenting has brought out the differences in our beliefs in a way that has made it hard for us to get along.

I'm a proponent of Western medicine. My kids are vaccinated. We take them to the doctor, give them antibiotics when their doctor prescribes them and emphasize a balanced diet.

Cassie is a proponent of alternative medicine. She doesn't vaccinate her kids, keeps a vegan house and uses homeopathic remedies and meditation to combat illness. This difference has resulted in heated arguments about what's best for kids, and we have not been able to "agree to disagree."

Recently she sent me a large, and probably expensive, set of herbal remedies as a "gift." If it were from someone else, I'd thank her and give the set to someone who would use it. But in light of our ongoing "debates," this feels like a passive-aggressive dig at my values. It would be like me sending her a grass-fed steak and a wheel of Brie. How should I respond? -- DIFFERENT MEDICAL BELIEFS

DEAR D.M.B.: Don't overreact. Write Cassie a sweet note thanking her for her "thoughtfulness" and give the unwanted gift to someone who might use it or toss it. Do not let this degenerate into another argument. And let's hope that her children continue to enjoy good health.

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