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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Objects When Kids Are Made to Pay for Roughhousing

DEAR ABBY: We visit my in-laws two or three times a year. During our most recent visit, my kids (ages 12 and 14) were roughhousing with their cousins and accidentally slammed a door, which resulted in a broken frame. Their grandpa had asked them to stop, which they apparently didn't do.

Now, three months later, my in-laws are visiting us, and my mother-in-law is having the kids pay for the frame. When I spoke up and let her know I thought this was inappropriate, she became very upset and said, "Kids these days don't have any consequences," and this is what she and the kids had agreed should happen. I emphasized in front of the kids how important it is to listen, to be accountable for your actions and to see what they could've done to make it up to her.

I'm just not comfortable with her still holding onto this and expecting them to pay for the frame. It seems to me that a conversation about respect and listening is plenty appropriate but, after that, shouldn't my mother-in-law have gracefully let it go? These kids, by the way, get excellent school reports, play instruments and sports, and are considered by most people to be great kids.

Was I wrong to express my opinion that having the kids pay her is inappropriate? If it wasn't, then maybe we shouldn't visit at her home, since it's filled with breakable valuables. I am very frustrated by my controlling mother-in-law. -- UPSET IN MORRO BAY

DEAR UPSET: Your "great kids" ignored their grandfather when he asked them to quit roughhousing, and the result was significant property damage. If they had agreed with their grandmother that there would be restitution -- I assume the same was true of their cousins -- you were wrong to interfere. That you would do this in the presence of your kids was a mistake.

I agree with your mother-in-law that one of the problems in our society today is the lack of accountability or consequences when people do something wrong. I applaud her for sticking to her guns, and you owe her an apology.

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