DEAR ABBY: I'm the youngest of nine children. When my father passed away two years ago, I moved to northern Ohio to care for my ailing mother. I thought I was doing the family a favor.
When I moved home, I allowed my sisters to control my life as they had for the past 35 years. I finally drew the line and told them to stay away from me. I told them they could visit Mother during the day because I work full-time. (They don't have steady jobs.)
Mother has always loved me, and she knew how they were treating me. She informed them that if they didn't get off my case, she wanted nothing to do with them. This angered them even more, and they stopped calling and visiting us. It hurt my mother deeply. She changed her will, leaving me the house and furniture, and named me executor of her estate.
When mother was hospitalized, she told me not to contact my sisters, and I followed her wishes. This infuriated them, but they did begin visiting us again and calling on the phone, although I temporarily put a block on their calls so they wouldn't disturb Mother.
Please tell me what I should do to win back my sisters' love, but not allow them to control me. -- UPSET IN OHIO
DEAR UPSET: You are serving as "gatekeeper" to your mother, and it's understandably resented by other siblings. They have as much right to see and talk with her as you do. Putting a block on their calls, however well-intentioned your motives may have been, was the wrong thing to do.
You may not be able to re-establish a loving relationship with your sisters, but you could create harmony by encouraging them to visit your mother as frequently as possible. If you feel they are "controlling you," leave the premises when they come to visit.
DEAR ABBY: My wife's mother passed away last summer, leaving her husband alone. He is an alcoholic, in generally poor health, and has been in and out of the hospital. My problem is that my wife has now decided she wants him to live with us.
We have three children and a dog in our four-bedroom house. If my father-in-law moves in here, my sons, ages 7 and 13, will have to share a bedroom.
Abby, I feel that even though she asked me if it would be all right for her father to move in, it wouldn't have mattered what I said. The other evening she asked me when we were going to set up the bunk beds for the boys. My reply was that I was not happy about this and didn't want her father here. As you may guess, she's furious with me and now she won't speak to me.
I am not doing this to be mean, as she says. I believe he is a bad influence on the children. Also, my wife works nights, and that means I'll be the one who will be home with him all evening.
Am I being unreasonable? An opinion from an impartial person would be appreciated. -- ANONYMOUS IN NEW ENGLAND
DEAR ANONYMOUS: No, you are not being unreasonable. Present your wife with alternatives for her father such as senior services, live-in help or a senior care facility. The two of you should be able to compromise on this issue even if the solution isn't perfect.
Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Booklets, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600