DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law, "Carol," doesn't wash her hands after changing diapers. I find it repulsive, and I can't help but cringe. I have also noticed that her kids don't wash their hands after using the bathroom -- or any other time, for that matter -- unless instructed to do so and closely watched. Even then, they don't use soap.
Carol wonders why her family is always sick. If I say anything to her, I'm sure she'll become defensive or dismiss it as the cause of their illness. Is there a polite, yet firm, way to say something? -- INCREASINGLY GERMOPHOBIC, KENOSHA, WIS.
DEAR GERMOPHOBIC: The idea that Carol would change a diaper and then prepare meals for the family is, frankly, nauseating.
Sometimes there is no polite way to say something, so my advice is to be direct. There is a reason why hospitals constantly impress upon their staff the importance of washing their hands. Years ago, my mother described a poster she saw in the halls of a major hospital. It depicted a silhouette of two outstretched hands, fingers apart. The caption read, "The 10 most frequent causes of disease. Remember to wash your hands." Repeat this to your sister-in-law, and maybe she'll get the message.