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by Abigail Van Buren

In-Laws' Public Reserve Is Wife's Private Frustration

DEAR ABBY: This concerns all those letters in response to "Hurt Mother-in-Law," whose daughter-in-law couldn't call her "Mom."

In my case, I wanted with all my heart to call my mother-in-law "Mom." She didn't ask me to, so I came right out and asked my in-laws if I could call them "Mom" and "Dad."

They said it was OK with them, but every time I did, they looked uncomfortable, so I quit calling them Mom and Dad and started calling them by their first names. Well, I could see they weren't pleased with that either, so I just gave up and avoided calling them anything.

They are very undemonstrative and never hug or kiss each other in public. They kiss above their grandchildren's heads when they greet them. This is foreign to me because I grew up in a very affectionate family. However, my husband didn't, although he shows me lots of affection in private.

Abby, is there a solution to this problem? Or must I learn to live with it? -- FRUSTRATED DAUGHTER-IN-LAW

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Don't try to "teach" your in-laws to be more demonstrative or affectionate; just be grateful that your husband shows you "lots of affection" in private.

Continue to be affectionate to your children. However, never order them to kiss Grandma, Grandpa or anyone else. Insincere kisses give children the wrong message.

The way to teach children to be affectionate is to show them affection.