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by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter's New Kitten Brings Comfort, Conflict to Household

DEAR ABBY: My 34-year-old daughter lives with me to get ahead on her student loans. She has a good job, pays rent and has a serious boyfriend. My niece, her cousin, recently died by suicide, and naturally, we are all devastated, but my daughter took the news especially hard. I had to be out of town for three weeks, and during this time she has been spending time with my sister-in-law's family as they all navigate this tragedy.

My niece left behind several pets -- dogs and a mama cat with kittens. My daughter called me, announced she had brought a kitten home and declared that this kitten has helped her in her grief process. I am livid that she didn't ask me first (she knew the answer would be a firm "no"). She's now claiming that I don't care about her grief.

I feel emotionally blackmailed, and I'm dreading the confrontation when I get home. This kitten has taken this devastating tragedy to a new level. How should I handle this? -- FAMILY GRIEF

DEAR FAMILY GRIEF: While I understand your feelings, handle it by being less hard-nosed about the fact that your daughter didn't follow protocol by asking permission before bringing home the kitten. Allow her to keep it, and during those times when she can't be home because she's working, etc., encourage her to leave the little furball with her boyfriend. Make plain that the creature is -- and will be -- her responsibility, meaning she will be responsible for feeding, vet bills, litter box, etc. And, most important of all, try not to fall in love with it because when your daughter leaves, Kitty will be going with her.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Death