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by Abigail Van Buren

Two Would Be a Crowd for Two Mothers in Law

DEAR ABBY: My mother recently moved into a senior housing complex, which she loves. Now my mother-in-law, "Irene," has decided she wants to move there, too. The problem is, my mother does not want to live near Irene. Although Mom has always been nice to her, she has never liked her.

There are fewer than 50 apartments in the complex and only one dining area. Moving Mother elsewhere is out of the question because she signed a lease. Both Mom and Irene are in their 80s. I don't want to hurt my husband of 46 years or his mother. I feel like I'm ... IN A REAL PICKLE IN MICHIGAN

DEAR IN A PICKLE: Irene is eager to move into the complex because she has no doubt heard how much your mother loves living there and she probably doesn't know about any others. Your husband should encourage his mother to start looking around for an "even better" place. Surely after all these years, the fact that your mother isn't crazy about his won't devastate him. My advice is help Irene by scouting other locations right away.

P.S. She might be more open to the idea if your mother stopped bragging and started doing some complaining.

DEAR ABBY: Our nephew recently asked family members for money to help him go on a mission for his church. Apparently he is supposed to gather 50 sponsors to pay a "tax deductible" $50 to $100 per month for two years (via direct bill or credit card), according to the forms from his church.

We love our nephew and his parents, but we do not share their religious beliefs. And quite frankly, the request has upset more than a few members of the family because the amount requested is obviously not just to support the young man, but a way to support his church.

Help! How do we respond to such a "charitable" request? -- EMBARRASSED IN ARIZONA

DEAR EMBARRASSED: Respond by writing your nephew a sweet note wishing him well on his mission, and explaining that you do not feel comfortable donating. In no way are you obligated to fork over money -- via credit card or any other way -- and you should not feel embarrassed for declining to donate.

DEAR ABBY: My son, "Rick," is divorcing his wife of five years, "June." It is a painful process and sad not only for them, but also the extended family.

Over the last three years June has developed symptoms of paranoia to the extent that Rick can no longer go out with friends or office associates. She thinks he's having an affair -- which he is not. She checks his cell phone, reads his e-mails and has turned to alcohol for comfort.

I am relieved that June is now on medication for her symptoms, but the damage is done.

How should I respond to innocent inquiries as to how my son and his wife are doing? We have many friends who know them well. I'm hoping you can give me an appropriate response that will protect both of them until they're able to get their lives back on track. -- MOURNING IN IOWA

DEAR MOURNING: Allow me to suggest a couple: "Rick and June have decided to go their separate ways," or, "They're divorced." You are not obligated to give any more details than that, nor should you.

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 $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)