DEAR ABBY: I'd like to comment on the letter from "Overwhelmed in Kentucky." She's the woman who married the widower whose grown "children" come to visit every six weeks.
I assume no grandchildren are coming to visit, since none were mentioned, which makes it even easier to resolve her dilemma. "Overwhelmed" needs to set some ground rules for visiting children. She could offer to fix breakfast each morning and let the children be responsible for the other meals. If the girls can't cook, how do they eat when they are not visiting their father? Do their husbands cook? They can always have lunch and dinner carry-out, or dine in at any neighboring restaurant -- splitting the bill, of course.
And who ever heard of the hostess doing laundry for her guests? My children were taught how to do their own laundry when they were old enough to reach the controls on the washer and dryer. As for "Overwhelmed" cleaning up after they are gone, that's ridiculous! What's wrong with the married children cleaning up after themselves -- changing bed linens to prepare for their next visit, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms they used and any other area of the house that they visited?
If "Overwhelmed's" husband has a problem with these ground rules, then I would recommend she follow your advice for an occasional weekend with friends to coincide with his children's visits. If she has to resort to leaving, I would hope that the company would leave the house as clean as they found it. -- AMAZED IN ARIZONA
DEAR AMAZED: Your suggestions are good ones. However, I suspect that "Overwhelmed" -- who has been married to her husband for only a couple of years, and inherited the "children" with the marriage -- is reluctant to assert herself because she's afraid she'll be categorized as the "wicked stepmother." That's why I recommended that part-time help be hired on those long weekends when the "kids" are visiting Dad. He earns enough money to afford it. (She mentioned his occupation, which I chose to omit.)
DEAR ABBY: I started calling my in-laws "Mom" and "Dad." When my mother found out, she became very upset. She stated that it was an insult to her because "they were not the people who bore or raised me."
I did not mean to insult my mother. I just meant it as a term of endearment for my in-laws. I'm curious as to what other couples call their in-laws. Do they call them "Mom" and "Dad" or by their first names? I need to know the proper etiquette. -- TROUBLED IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR TROUBLED: It's sad that your mother is so insecure that your gesture of love and respect for your in-laws was perceived as threatening. Many people address their in-laws as "Mom" and "Dad." Others use their first names. Occasionally people invent pet names to call their in-laws. The most inventive I can recall was "MIL" and "FIL" -- for mother-in-law and father-in-law.
DEAR ABBY: I am writing on behalf of a widowed friend. I noticed that she is no longer wearing her wedding rings. When I asked her why, she said she was told that it is not proper for a widow or widower to continue to wear wedding rings. Could such a thing really be true? -- PATRICIA IN SEVERNA PARK, MD.
DEAR PATRICIA: No. Widowed people may continue to wear their wedding rings as long as they wish. However, when they are ready to entertain the idea of dating again, they either remove the wedding ring(s) or switch them to the right hand.
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