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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Works to Shield Kids From Her Mentally Ill Sister

DEAR ABBY: How do I get across to my parents that I don't want them exposing my minor children to my mentally ill sister? "Evangeline" is bipolar, has borderline personality disorder and sometimes acts out in public. They know how strongly I feel about this but find ways to expose my children to her anyway. My kids don't want to be around Evangeline, but my parents continue to push her on them. I'll give you an example: They'll take the kids out to dinner and "bump into her unplanned" at a restaurant. I don't know what else I can do other than tell them I don't like it. But when I do, they refuse to listen and get upset when my kids tell me they saw her. Please advise. -- LOOKING OUT FOR MY KIDS

DEAR LOOKING: Mental illness isn't contagious. As long as Evangeline is on her medication, she poses no threat to your children. Is it beyond the realm of possibility that these encounters with her are actually unplanned? Sometimes people -- myself included -- get into the habit of patronizing certain restaurants because they are nearby and serve reliably good food. It's easy to fall into a comfortable pattern.

Because you feel so strongly about these encounters, tell your parents you prefer they take your children to places your sister doesn't frequent. However, if they persist in "pushing her on them," as you put it, then you may have to consider restricting your parents' visits with the grandkids to situations you can control.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Mental Health