DEAR ABBY: My husband, daughter and I all have birthdays in the same month. My mother-in-law always sends gifts for me and my daughter, but never to my husband, her son. He tries to shrug it off, but I know it bothers him.
In earlier years, I thought it was an oversight. I have tried gentle reminders and hints, but again this year there was no gift for her son. It would be different if she sent one only to our daughter, but sending one to me and not to her son is a slap in the face. They have a fairly good relationship, and my husband is kind and generous to his parents.
I haven't opened the gift she sent me this year, and I do not intend to. Should I return it to her with a note explaining why, or donate it and forget about it until it happens next year? -- PERPLEXED IN THE NORTHWEST
DEAR PERPLEXED: Your mother-in-law's behavior strikes me as passive aggressive. That it makes you uncomfortable is understandable. Perhaps you and your husband should ask her directly why she does this and let her explain. Then, after you have heard her out, you can tell her that what she's doing makes you uncomfortable, and you would prefer she not send you any more birthday gifts if she intends to ignore her son.