DEAR ABBY: We were invited to spend Thanksgiving with our son and daughter-in-law -- a three-day drive for us, but we were eager to spend time with family and see our grandchildren.
We make it a point to keep our visits short. They are busy young people with lots to do. We take them all out to dinner at least once during our visit, and offer to help wherever needed.
However, our daughter-in-law remained cool and distant. It made us feel we weren't a part of their family. She kept herself occupied reading books or sewing, or she would go into their bedroom and close the door and we wouldn't see her again until morning. Her behavior made us feel we were unwelcome and in the way.
Abby, we could use some pointers on what to do -- and what not to do -- while visiting our married children. Please help. -- PUZZLED MOTHER-IN-LAW
DEAR PUZZLED: You appear to be gracious people. I'm not sure the problem is yours, and giving you any pointers seems beside the point. If she usually behaves that way during your visits, your daughter-in-law may have insecurity or self-esteem issues that make it difficult for her to entertain houseguests, or she could simply be a "loner." Whatever her reasons, you're overdue for a private talk with your son to help you understand what's really going on.
DEAR ABBY: My fiance and I are being married next summer. We have asked my niece and nephew, who will both be teen-agers, to be in the wedding. They were delighted.
The problem is that they live out of town with their mother, "Rosie." Their father (my brother) lives in the same city.
In the past when my parents wanted to see the children, transportation would have to be provided to get them here. Rosie didn't want the children to fly, so Mom and Dad had to drive both ways. My brother helped with transportation when he could, but it was mostly up to my parents to provide it.
My fiance doesn't want Rosie at the wedding. I have no strong feelings one way or the other. What would be the right thing to do? -- CONFUSED BRIDE-TO-BE
DEAR BRIDE: You should not be obligated to invite Rosie, particularly in light of the fact that your fiance would prefer she not attend. If your brother is attending the wedding, he should provide transportation for his children.
DEAR ABBY: May I respond to "Happy Grandmother, Dallas," the grandma of an adopted baby girl, who paid tribute to the courageous sacrifice made by the child's birth mother?
I cried when I read her letter. Her kind, loving words touched me and helped to heal a part of me that has been empty and aching. You see, I recently celebrated the 10th birthday of my son, whom I placed for adoption.
Abby, there are many women like me -- women who are grieving quietly -- wondering every day if what we did was the right thing. Just one small "thank you," even if it was not meant specifically for me, makes me smile and puts a new spring in my step. That's exactly what "Grandma's" letter did for me, and I want to express my thanks. -- SMILING IN THE CAROLINAS
DEAR SMILING: I'm pleased that you found that letter comforting. You -- and all birth mothers who have given up their children -- deserve a star in your crown for having made the most unselfish (and painful) decision a parent can make.
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