DEAR ABBY: I read the "Ten Commandments for Mothers-in-Law" in your column. It implies that if the relationship is troubled, the fault is hers. However, relationships are a two-way street.
My son -- a "rescuer" -- married an insecure, controlling young woman. She is threatened by any participation on our part in their lives. Our son seems happy in his marriage, so we are getting on with our own lives without involvement with them or our grandchildren. A tragedy? Yes. One we can fix from our end? No. (Ironically, I scored high on your "Commandments for Mothers-in-Law.")
Adult children also bear a responsibility for making the relationship a success. To all daughters-in-law and sons-in-law who read the "Ten Commandments for Mothers-in-Law" and said, "Amen!" I offer this slightly modified version:
TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
1. Thou shalt love, honor and respect your mother-in-law and father-in-law.
2. Thou shalt allow them complete independence.
3. Thou shalt speak only kindly and loyally about them.
4. Thou shalt not find fault.
5. Thou shalt not visit them too frequently, and never enter their home without knocking.
6. Thou shalt say thank you when they do something nice for you or your children.
7. Thou shalt not give them advice unless requested.
8. Thou shalt not deny them access to their grandchildren as a bargaining chip to get what you want.
9. Thou shalt respect their taste in home decorating, though it differs from your own.
10. Thou shalt petition the Heavenly Father, in whose love they abide, for their happiness.
I would also suggest that daughters-in-law remember that they are providing their children with a blueprint for how they themselves should be treated one day in the future when they become mothers-in-law.
Please print this, Abby. I know I speak for tens of thousands of mothers-in-law who will read this and say, "Amen!" -- DISAPPOINTED MOTHER-IN-LAW
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Touche! I'm with you all the way.
DEAR ABBY: I have a question regarding the proper way to pay someone back when they "pick something up" for you. In many cases when someone says, "I'm going to the store; would you like anything?" they come back from the store and won't accept any money.
We always intend to repay these people for the products they purchase. I've even tried stuffing the money into purses or diaper bags, but they always find it before they leave or just plain won't accept it.
Any suggestions? -- INDEBTED IN ILLINOIS
DEAR INDEBTED: Yes. Take a moment to consider if there is something special you might do for these "angels." Consider knitting something for their baby, embroidering some tea towels or guest towels, or preparing homemade pastries or candy from a family recipe. Because it's something you made yourself, the gift would be doubly meaningful.
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