DEAR ABBY: My son is being deployed for 10 months. His wife and baby are coming to live with me, and I am thrilled.
My concern is that his wife is a picky eater and she doesn't do much around the house. Would it be too much to ask her to help with the chores while my husband and I are at work? How do I handle the mealtime dilemma? (She doesn't cook.)
I don't want her to feel like she's our live-in maid or that we're mean about the meals we prepare. We want to be the best in-laws we can be. Help? -- MEANING WELL IN THE EAST
DEAR MEANING WELL: After your daughter-in-law arrives, schedule a family meeting during which everyone's household responsibilities will be discussed. If necessary, create a chart to keep track of them. If there are things she is able to do, assign them to her. If she's clueless, then teach her. Do not overload her, and make sure she understands that you and your husband also have chores you will be doing.
Because she's a picky eater, ask her to list what items she wants in the house so they are available. If she's interested, offer to show her how to prepare some of the dishes your son has always enjoyed because it would be a nice surprise for him once he returns. And arrange regular monthly meetings, so that if adjustments need to be made, they can be done without hurt feelings or misunderstandings.
You are all adults. If you want this to work and are all willing to communicate and listen, you should be able to accomplish your goal without your daughter-in-law feeling like the maid.