Dear Annie: Due to financial problems, my husband and I recently had to move into my in-laws' home. Not a day goes by that I am not chastised or put down for the choices that led us to this situation. My "frivolous spending habits" seem to be the sole reason we are here. They totally disregard the illness that kept their son from working, his alcoholism and his gambling. Those subjects never come up. I took out loans to pay rent when he couldn't work and am still paying those off.
My mother-in-law treats me like a child. My three teenage kids have started telling her the things they used to tell me. My feelings are so hurt. When my husband lost his job, our insurance went with it, so I can no longer see my psychiatrist. I am disabled and would have a hard time leaving. I have no one to turn to. What can I do? — California
Dear California: You don't need us to tell you that you should get out of that toxic environment as soon as possible. Have you spoken to your husband about this? He needs to stand up for you and make sure his parents treat you with more respect.
But you also might enlist your in-laws' assistance in dealing with their son's issues. Don't make accusations or act defensively. Simply say, "I so appreciate your taking us in during this difficult time. How do you think we can get 'Joe' to stop gambling and drinking? It's eating into our finances, and I could use your help. What do you suggest?" They may not be helpful at all, but at least you will have brought up the important subjects that everyone seems unwilling to discuss.
You also can contact Gam-Anon and Al-Anon for yourself and your kids. Then look into free or low-cost counseling through local churches, graduate school counseling departments, medical school psychology departments, United Way, the YMCA, the YWCA, the Samaritan Institute, NAMI and support groups such as the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance and Recovery International.
Dear Annie: I know it's late, but I have a suggestion for "Under the Table in Indiana," who is arguing with his siblings about selling Dad's home and moving him into an assisted living facility. Please tell him to consult an elder care attorney.
My husband and his siblings did this while their mother was making that transition. The lawyer helped us structure the home sale and finances in order to best protect my mother-in-law's assets, while making sure we didn't unknowingly do anything to jeopardize her position (like liquidate and disburse assets prematurely). — Daughter-in-Law in Minnesota
Dear Minnesota: Often, even children with the best of intentions aren't sure how to proceed when it comes to the care of a parent and the arrangements that need to be made. The resulting power struggle helps no one. Consulting with an unbiased third party is usually the best way to go, and an elder care attorney would certainly be an excellent choice for the position. Thank you.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.