DEAR ABBY: My parents live a simple life, enjoying their days as retirees. They invite me to join them for special occasions at their house (my childhood home) and although the house is organized and tidy, I become ill when I spend more than a few hours under their roof.
Their cleaning practices are questionable. They simply rinse plates and utensils after use, as opposed to using the dishwasher. Within an hour of arriving, the dust makes my allergies and asthma flare up. They prefer to launder clothes, sheets, blankets, etc. only occasionally out of concern about "wasting water" and money. Their dog and cat have urinated throughout the house, and my parents claim to not be able to smell it.
I don't want to hurt their feelings by declining their invitations, but I can't stand to get sick every time I walk through their door. Help! -- SNEEZING IN THE SUBURBS
DEAR SNEEZING: You're right, you can't. That's why it's time to speak up and tell your parents your allergies flare up when you visit their house. If you're expected to spend the night there, tell them that from now on you'll sleep at a hotel/motel nearby. And before using them, either wash their eating utensils or take your parents out for meals, which will make it easier on all of you.