Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Son-in-Law's Familiarity Is Fast Breeding Contempt

DEAR ABBY: My problem is the 40-year-old husband of my 30-year-old daughter. He believes that because he is "family," he is entitled to come into my home and help himself to anything he wants in my fridge or cupboards. He has done this for several years, even after having been told (by me) that this is unacceptable. After complying for a while, he went back to helping himself to food and drink as though he were in his own home.

His manners are atrocious. He doesn't wait to be offered a second helping -- he takes what he wants, sometimes ignoring the serving utensils and using his fingers. He weighs 260 and is a big eater. He complains if I don't have his favorite beer, suggesting that I buy it by the case so I won't run out!

My daughter caters to him, asking him (in my home) if he wants more of anything.

Because of the distance they have to travel to visit us, they always spend the night. My husband and I always give them our bed�room. When we spent the night at their place, we slept on a broken�-down sofa that they brought in from the toolshed.

I know there is very little you can do to help me, Abby, but I need to know if being "family" is a legitimate reason for my son-in-law's behavior. -- APPALLED IN CANADA

DEAR APPALLED: Being "family" in a family of pigs might excuse this inconsiderate oaf, but in a family of reasonably well-bred people, his behavior is not acceptable.

DEAR ABBY: I handle "lost" property for a large hospital, and I see so much heartache, I feel compelled to write.

Abby, advise your readers to please leave all valuables at home, especially their precious wedding rings with stones and other "real" jewelry or religious medals.

I cannot tell you how many people I have seen who have been robbed of their jewelry and other valuables. The elderly are especially vulnerable, as they are sometimes confused. Their rings are often loose after years of wear and are easily slipped off by thieves.

A tip: Never tape a ring to a finger -- it's an advertisement to come and get it.

Even the dead are being robbed. If you arrive at the hospital unexpectedly, send your valuables home immediately with a friend. If you're alone, insist that the nurse (no one else) lock up your rings in the hospital safe. She will place them in a special "valuables" envelope and will give you a receipt.

Most hospitals are wide open to the public, and that includes thieves as well as fine and dedicated employees. Also, hospitals are not responsible for lost valuables. We cannot afford to reimburse patients for theft. Please sign this ... WORKING A NICE BAY AREA HOSPITAL

People are eating them up! For Abby's favorite recipes, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600