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by Abigail Van Buren

Family Enjoys Mother-in-Law Just Fine From a Distance

DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law is contemplating a move to the small Southern town my husband and I have called home for more than 10 years. She's a vibrant, well-to-do Southern lady with many friends and family in the big city where she has lived her entire life. The problem is, I really don't want her to live near us. We have five children whom she constantly tries to tell me how to raise, and I'm not sure she even likes the children.

I don't know why she wants to make this drastic move because she ridiculed us when we relocated. For that matter, she ridicules us about everything we do. (We are relatively normal, boring people.) My husband has stayed quiet about the situation.

How can I tell her we would prefer she stay in the big city without hurting her feelings? We visit her often, and she visits us. This arrangement has worked for many years. -- LOVING OUR QUIET WAY OF LIFE

DEAR LOVING: What exactly do you mean when you say your husband has stayed quiet about this whole situation? Do you know what is driving your mother-in-law's decision to move closer? Could she be concerned about her age and her health, and feel insecure being so far from "family"?

If it's not a health problem, then you and your husband are going to have to speak up. Your mother-in-law should be told that the two of you do not agree with her parenting advice, that you feel she has ridiculed you and your husband for years, and you would prefer that she remain where she is. And if she makes the move anyway -- which she may -- keep your distance.

Read more in: Family & Parenting