DEAR ABBY: When my daughter and her family come to visit, they are very messy. They have a 3- and a 4-year-old and two large, long-haired dogs. I can deal with the children's messiness -- but the dogs, no.
I agreed to let them bring their dogs if they cleaned up after them, but it hasn't happened. The dogs shed terribly. The hair needs to be vacuumed daily. They don't practice it at home and don't do it here, even after being told the dog hair is everywhere in my house.
We are 70 and active, but a lot of cleaning must be done when they leave. I especially don't like it around food. I told my husband I have decided to tell them they can no longer bring their dogs here. He goes around and tries to clean up after them so I won't get upset instead of letting them take responsibility. He says he's afraid they will quit coming.
Abby, they don't pick up after themselves at all. In their home, clothes are thrown everywhere on the floor. They are in their 40s and should know better. I feel they have no respect for us or the way we choose to live. Must I keep my mouth shut to keep the peace, like my husband says? I told him to speak up, but he won't. This is physically and emotionally wearing on me. -- DRAINED IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR DRAINED: How your daughter and son-in-law choose to live in their own home is their business, as long as the disarray doesn't endanger the health of their children. Because you agreed to let them bring their dogs over on the condition that they vacuum up any hair their animals shed and they failed to comply, you are within your rights to tell them their pets must be left at home. Your house, your conditions. Messy grandchildren, yes. Messy dogs, no.
DEAR ABBY: I recently had a baby. Two of my friends became mothers five and nine months ago. We are all first-time stay-at-home moms, which has been great except they constantly offer unwanted advice every time I see them and try to come off like they're experts. I agree that they sometimes offer helpful advice, but it's getting old because I'm becoming confident in my parenting skills and judgment. How do I politely let them know that if I want advice, I'll ask for it? -- UNWANTED ADVICE IN TENNESSEE
DEAR TENNESSEE: Do it by first acknowledging them for being such good friends and wanting to be helpful. Then add that, as you have told me, you are now more confident with your own parenting skills and would prefer they wait to be asked before offering any more unsolicited advice.
DEAR ABBY: I will be having surgery soon to alleviate the embarrassing symptoms of bowel incontinence. I have a great doctor and family support. When nosy people ask why I am going to the hospital, I want to say, "None of your business," or "Be glad you don't have this problem." Neither response seems appropriate. Any suggestions? -- SHY IN THE SOUTH
DEAR SHY: A certain amount of curiosity is normal. If someone asks why you are going to the hospital, all you need to say is, "I'm having a procedure." However, if the person is insensitive and pushes you to be more specific, your response should be, "It's personal." Period.