DEAR ABBY: I have been with my wonderful boyfriend for almost five years, and we have a 4-year-old daughter together. The problem is, his parents are hoarders. Their house is a disaster. It's falling apart from the inside out. They have piles of junk in the house and yard, and six dogs that live in the house with them.
My daughter has just been diagnosed with a severe allergy to mold. I don't like her to go to their house, but they adore her and want to spend time with her. I don't know what to do!
I have tried talking to my boyfriend about it, but he's in complete denial about his parents' situation and says I'm "overreacting." I don't want to hurt their feelings, and I don't want to keep my daughter from her grandparents. Help, please! -- AT A LOSS IN TEXAS
DEAR AT A LOSS: The loving grandparents can spend time with the child at your home rather than theirs.
Schedule an appointment with your daughter's pediatrician or allergy specialist for you and your boyfriend. Because your daughter has severe allergies, he needs to understand what that means and how serious her allergic reactions could become. If your daughter is allergic to mold, she also may be severely allergic to other things -- like animal dander and dust.
DEAR ABBY: My daughter was recently married in our hometown. Although she was born and raised here, she's now living in another state, so it was a destination wedding for many of the invitees. It wasn't a large affair -- only 60 people attended.
I received an email today from an old friend who was surprised to hear about the wedding and wanted to know why she wasn't invited. I'm at a loss as to how to respond. I have known her a long time and now I feel guilty for not having invited her, but we had decided early on that only family and a few close friends would be invited.
Is there a polite way to respond to her? I feel it was rude of her to even ask. -- MOTHER OF THE BRIDE
DEAR MOTHER OF THE BRIDE: For the woman to ask why she wasn't on the guest list was, indeed, rude. A polite response would be to tell her the wedding was very small -- family and only a few friends were invited -- but you'll be sure to let her know when the grandchildren start arriving.
DEAR ABBY: Years ago, my sister developed a freckle-sized spot on her arm that was diagnosed as skin cancer. She was treated, and nothing more came of it.
Recently, she has been telling people she's a "cancer survivor" and participating in survivor walks. I applaud her willingness to help and be involved, but it seems she's comparing herself to people who have undergone breast cancer, chemo, major life-altering conditions, loss of family members and worse.
Are my family and I being overly critical? Or is there some way we can make her realize that what she has gone through is not nearly as devastating as the experiences of those who have truly survived this ordeal? -- BROTHER DAVE IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR BROTHER DAVE: Yes, you are being overly critical. That cancerous "freckle" might have been melanoma, which is a very serious cancer. Your sister is lucky it wasn't life-threatening. If she wants to participate in cancer fundraisers, she has earned the right to be there.
TO MY MUSLIM READERS: Happy Eid al-Fitr -- it's time to break the Ramadan fast. May God make yours a blessed feast.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)