DEAR ABBY: My friend "Nancy" and I have known each other for three years. She's a nice person and I cherish her friendship. The problem is she always invites herself to go with me to family functions.
When I tell her I'm going home for the weekend to visit my parents, she says, "I'll ride along with you." She comes home with me for Christmas, Thanksgiving and family birthdays. I am afraid to mention this constant "tagging along" to Nancy because she grew up in several foster homes and never had a real family. I would never want Nancy to feel I'm turning my back on her like she says everyone else has.
Abby, am I being selfish? How can I spend some alone time with my family without hurting Nancy's feelings? -- STUCK IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR STUCK: Perhaps the reason "everyone else" has "turned their back" on Nancy is because they didn't have the courage to explain to her that they felt encroached upon. She must be told. Doing so is not selfish; it will prevent your resentment from building to the point where Nancy is rejected once again. Explain as kindly as possible that although she's welcome to accompany you on some occasions, you need time alone with your family. It's the truth -- and saying so shouldn't make you feel guilty because you're not excommunicating her; you're creating healthy boundaries.
DEAR ABBY: Several years ago you printed a letter to grandmothers from "Your Son's Wife." I saved that letter. It is as appropriate today as it was then. Please print it again. My in-laws need to see it. Thank you. -- ANOTHER SON'S WIFE IN IOWA
DEAR WIFE: You're welcome. Read on:
DEAR GRANDMOTHERS: Please don't play favorites. If you buy a gift for your daughter's children, please buy something of equal value for your son's children. These children are cousins, and cousins play together. When they see the expensive toys, books and clothing that Grandma has given their cousins, they become jealous because Grandma has never given them such grand gifts. She gives them cheap little trinkets -- or nothing at all.
I am the mother of the children who receive very little from Grandma. I have looked into the sad eyes of my children when we visit their cousins who have been showered with expensive gifts from Grandma. It is always the daughter's children who are favored. I have friends who are in exactly the same situation, so I know I'm not imagining this.
I realize some grandmothers are fair to all their grandchildren, but I am sorry to say that they are the exception.
I hope this letter will cause the grandmothers who are guilty of this kind of favoritism to change their ways. Most children don't "need" anything -- but they are hurt when their cousins always get the peaches and they get the pits.
Thanks for listening. -- YOUR SON'S WIFE
DEAR ABBY: Until now, I never believed in psychics or receiving "visions" while sleeping, but I had a dream before the presidential election that the winner would have six letters in his first name and four letters in his last.
Dreams really DO come true! (I wish I'd put a bet on it.) -- JACK ANSPACH, VIRGINIA BEACH
DEAR JACK: This time you had a surefire winner. However, when it comes to betting, it's better to do it with your eyes open.
Abby shares her favorite recipes in a two-booklet set. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $7.90 per set ($9 per set in Canada) to: Dear Abby Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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