DEAR ABBY: My 8-year-old daughter is seriously allergic to most animals, including cats and dogs. Even a little fur sets her off. She was recently sent home from school sick after she had borrowed a sweater from a friend who has a cat. We are working with an allergist, but this isn't something that's going to go away with simple treatment.
My sister lives in a different state and has invited my family to spend the holidays at her home this year. However, she recently started fostering stray animals for a local shelter and has between five and 10 of them in her house at a time, in addition to their two cats and a dog. I have told my sister we can't visit her with the animals there. Although she insists that she'll vacuum and it will be OK, there is no way this is safe for my kid. Even if we slept at a hotel, spending the day in a "furry" house will be uncomfortable if not dangerous for my daughter.
My brother-in-law has a mild allergy for which he takes over-the-counter medication. My sister refuses to understand that this is different. She thinks I'm being difficult and overprotective, and she's angry at me. She's also unwilling to consider coming to our house. How do I get her to see that this isn't about her, and I'm just protecting my kid? -- FUR'S FLYIN' IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR FUR'S FLYIN': Ask your daughter's doctor to please -- in the name of family harmony -- write you a short letter explaining that because of your daughter's severe allergy, she cannot be in an environment that hasn't been professionally sanitized, and simply vacuuming isn't enough to guarantee your daughter won't wind up in an emergency room. Forward a copy of the letter to your sister with a loving note explaining that you aren't trying to hurt her feelings, but your daughter's health must come first. Then stick to your guns!
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I married late in life, and while he has never been married before, I have an adult child from a previous marriage. My husband's parents have long passed away, but his two siblings are torturing him. They are exceedingly bothered by the money and time my husband spends on us, constantly complaining to him that his "blood" family should be more important than his new family. How can we turn this situation around other than cut them off completely (as his therapist has suggested)? -- FRUSTRATED SISTER-IN-LAW
DEAR S-I-L: Your husband is paying good money for the advice he is receiving from his therapist. What the therapist is telling him makes sense. You cannot change your greedy, envious in-laws. You will save yourselves a world of pain and aggravation if you take the advice you have been given and distance yourselves both physically and emotionally.
TO MY JEWISH READERS: Passover begins at sundown. Happy Passover, everyone! -- LOVE, ABBY
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