DEAR ABBY: The holidays are coming, and this year it's my turn to host Thanksgiving. I'm a full-time working mom with two active children, and I also volunteer. No matter how hard I will work at cleaning my house before the relatives come, I know there'll be areas that aren't spotless. There's just not enough time in the schedule.
I have relatives who will make sure to point out what needs to be done, or critique how I have arranged my furniture, or what I did or didn't prepare for the meal. How do I graciously handle these comments? I want to be an example to my children on how to be a gracious hostess, even when dealing with critical or rude comments. -- UNDER PRESSURE IN OHIO
DEAR UNDER PRESSURE: You would be amazed what a person can get away with if it's said with a warm smile. If someone criticizes your housekeeping, smile and say, "Oh, really? I must have missed it. The vacuum cleaner is in the closet. Be an angel and take care of it for me, will you?" The same goes for where you keep your duster.
If your relatives don't like what's on your menu, suggest sweetly that next time they come they bring something they will enjoy. It would be a lot more gracious than showing the person the door.
DEAR ABBY: I have been in a relationship with a wonderful man for more than a year. He has sole custody of his 10-year-old son, "Jordan." Because of our financial circumstances at the time, we moved in with each other right away. Jordan's mother is not in the picture and, unfortunately, I inherited her parenting responsibilities because of it.
Jordan is a sweet boy, but I have no emotional attachment to him. To be honest, I'm disappointed every time he walks in the door after school and I'm forced to stop what I am doing in order to care for him.
Abby, I thought I would become more attached to Jordan as time went on, but instead, I'm feeling resentful. I'm embarrassed to have made a commitment to this man and his son and to have ended up in this situation. I don't want to break up with the love of my life, but I don't want to sacrifice the next eight years of my life raising a child who isn't mine. Do you have any advice for me? -- CONFLICTED IN SACRAMENTO, CALIF.
DEAR CONFLICTED: Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. If Jordan's father is really "the love of your life," you had better accept that he and his son are a package deal and treat the child with love. If you can't manage that, then do them both a favor and bow out of the picture NOW.
P.S. And because none of this is Jordan's fault, while you're packing, assure him that your leaving has nothing to do with him, only with you. It's the truth, and that way, he won't blame himself for something that's not his fault.
DEAR ABBY: My son was married twice to different women. I had two daughters-in-law. He is now married to a man. Is his spouse my son-in-law? -- MOM IN MAINE
DEAR MOM: Yes. Refer to him as your son-in-law and, if your son is finally happy with his spouse, your "son-in-love."
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