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by Abigail Van Buren

Family Dreads Long Visit From Whiny Mother in Law

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for 32 years. His mother, "Lois," usually comes to visit for a few days once a year, but this time she wants to stay for a month.

My husband works from home and deals with numerous clients. We are also a foster family who takes in medically fragile children. Their care and medical appointments keep me very busy, plus I have them involved in community programs.

Our household presently consists of an 11-year-old foster son and an 11-year-old with special needs whom we adopted. Our adult son also lives with us.

During previous visits when Lois has been with us for as long as a month, she literally cries and whines when my husband and I can't spend what she thinks is enough time with her.

We do try to do special things as a family and, of course, make an effort to involve Lois. She does nothing but complain. When we got pricey third-row seats to the musical "Beauty and the Beast," her complaint was that the seats were not in the center.

Last Christmas she stayed for a month, even though we asked her not to. One night my husband and I got a sitter so we could go out for dinner. We needed some time alone.

When we got home, Lois was furious. My husband tried to explain that married people need a little time to themselves once in a while, and we meant her no disrespect.

Well, yesterday on the phone she rehashed the whole thing again. Lois insists that houseguests should never be left alone -- even when they stay for a month.

Abby, what do you think about this? My mother-in-law needs to hear it from someone else. -- CRAVING TIME TO OURSELVES, MIDWAY CITY, CALIF.

DEAR CRAVING TIME: If your mother-in-law plans to stay in your city for a month, she should make reservations at a nearby hotel or motel. For her to impose upon you and your husband and demand that you disrupt your schedule for her -- knowing it's a hardship -- is unconscionable.

There's an old saying that after three days, fish and houseguests go bad. Your mother-in-law's behavior proves how true it is.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 14-year-old girl who is very distraught. My mother and I fight constantly over everything. Please don't tell me it's a common "teenage thing," because that isn't the case here.

Mom began taking birth control pills, and she blames her frequent rages on the medication. She has told me that she'd like to run away or commit suicide just to get away from me.

As hurt as I am by these statements, I cannot help but feel angry. I've tried to talk this out with her, but we always end up fighting.

Please help me, Abby. I don't know what to do. -- OVERWHELMED TEEN

DEAR OVERWHELMED: You are right to be concerned about your mother. Severe depression and a raging temper are not the usual side effects of birth control pills. She needs to be evaluated physically and emotionally to find out what is causing the problem.

It's important that you talk to an adult whom your mother trusts and who can convince her to call her doctor. Show the person this letter and tell him or her you wrote it. Your mother needs more help than I can offer in a letter.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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