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by Abigail Van Buren

Meddling M-I-L Hurt When Friend Switches Sides

DEAR ABBY: We have lived next door to a couple, "Evie" and "Earl," for five years. I thought we were good friends. Over the years, I vented to Evie about my relationship with my daughter-in-law, "Cate." I watch my two grandkids most of the week and have complained to her about Cate's poor parenting skills.

Last summer, my daughter-in-law made a concerted effort to befriend Evie, and they now socialize together -- even though Cate flirted with Earl and Evie didn't like it. This has pretty much killed my friendship with Evie and worsened my relationship with my D-I-L.

This has affected me emotionally and physically to the point that I either want to cut off ties with my son and/or move -- neither of which is really an option. I have tried talking to both parties to no avail. I don't know what to do. Please help. -- BETRAYED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR BETRAYED: If you had concerns about your daughter-in-law's parenting skills, the person you should have discussed them with was Cate. And if Evie was as good a friend as you thought, she wouldn't be hanging around with your daughter-in-law to the exclusion of you.

I assume that you, your son and Cate are still on speaking terms and you're still watching the kids "most of the week." If that's not true and you have been cut off by everyone, then the most important thing you need to do is take care of your mental and physical health. Accept that Evie will never be your buddy again and start socializing with others.

If you are no longer watching your grandchildren, your son and D-I-L will have to make alternative arrangements for childcare, which will cost them money they may be reluctant to spend. Then it will be in their interest as well as yours to make peace.

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