DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for three years and have two beautiful children. Shortly before our first child was born, my in-laws bought a new camera. They bring it along to every visit and constantly take pictures of all of us. Neither my husband nor I likes having our pictures taken. My in-laws have thousands of pictures of all of us already.
The biggest problem is that they don't have a relationship with their grandchildren because of this. They complain that the kids "don't like them." They feel they should therefore visit more often, but in reality, these visits consist of nonstop photo-snapping, and no quality time is spent with either of the children. How do I make this stop without causing problems? -- OUT OF FOCUS IN NEW YORK
DEAR OUT OF FOCUS: A diplomatic approach would be to suggest to your in-laws that they "shoot" only for a limited time when they visit -- no longer than the first 10 minutes. Explain that you realize the kids are growing and changing quickly, and you understand their desire to record all of it, but the children need a deeper kind of interaction with their grandparents in order to form a positive bond with them. Then suggest some ways they can relate to the little ones after the camera is put away.
If they balk, tell them the reason their grandchildren don't seem to like them is that children need face-to-face and eye contact, and the camera has prevented it from happening. If they're smart, they'll listen.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 43-year-old woman who has been in a relationship with a man I dated many years ago, "Charles." When we reconnected three years ago, I had a dog, "Frosty." One year into the relationship, Charles asked me to get rid of Frosty because he thinks dogs are unsanitary. I loved Frosty and kept him, but it caused all kinds of problems with my boyfriend.
When Charles and I moved in together three months ago, he insisted I get rid of Frosty and I caved. I miss my little friend so much it hurts. Memories of him are everywhere. I am able to get him back, but is it crazy that I would jeopardize my relationship because I want to keep my dog? -- IN THE DOGHOUSE
DEAR IN THE DOGHOUSE: I don't think it's crazy, and I'm sure my animal-loving readers -- who number in the millions -- would agree with me. People bond with their pets to such an extent that in the event of a natural disaster, some of them refuse to be separated from their companions.
That Charles would insist you get rid of Frosty shows extreme insensitivity for your feelings, in addition to disregard for your beloved pet in whom you had a significant emotional investment. Could Charles be jealous of the affection you have shown Frosty? Not knowing him, I can't guess. But if you are forced to choose between the two of them, you should seriously consider choosing the dog.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)