Dear Annie: I have two daughters-in-law who seem disrespectful to me. The first one only visits on Christmas day. Yet she has no problem calling when she wants me to take her kids to a doctor's appointment or pick them up from school. The other one does the same, but her excuse is that they are too busy to see me because they are spending time with her side of the family or they are having friends over.
I don't want to waste any more of my time on people who have no other use for me, and this upsets my husband no end. But, Annie, it's simply not fair. I am entitled to some respect. Why do these women think I owe them everything, but they never reciprocate? — Mother-in-Law from Hell
Dear Mother-in-Law: Respect has to be earned, no matter who you are. A relationship with an in-law takes time and effort from both sides. Apparently, you get to see the grandchildren. Some parents would be thrilled to have that much.
Do you see your sons without their wives? If not, you should speak directly to them about it. Never denigrate or criticize their wives. Instead, we urge you to do what you can to warm up these relationships. Let your daughters-in-law know how much you appreciate them for being supportive wives to your sons and good parents to the children (we hope they are). Find something to like about them if it kills you. Invite all of them over for dinner or bring dinner to them. Have a "girls' day out" and take the daughters-in-law for brunch and bonding. If you can keep your side positive and friendly, they are more likely to respond in kind.
Dear Annie: Every year, my four closest friends and I host birthday parties for one another. We call ourselves "soul sisters." Because we are all settled with homes and families, we decided that it would be fun to create an individual wish list prior to our birthday party. It makes it easier to shop, and we won't receive unneeded items.
One of our "soul sisters" creates an extensive and very detailed wish list. However, when it comes to gifts for others, she disregards our lists entirely, ignoring our suggestions and buying things we can't use, don't want and often cannot return. I end up donating these items to our local thrift store.
I know that these are gifts and we should be grateful, but this has really begun to bother me. Her birthday is coming up, and I would like to buy her something that isn't on her list to see how she responds. What do you think? — Soulless
Dear Soulless: We understand your frustration, and you certainly could try turning the tables to see whether it makes a difference. You also can ask her directly why she never gets things on the list. She may, in fact, resent having to purchase things that you are asking for. These are your "soul sisters" and such a conversation should not be that difficult. Your group of friends could also decide not to buy each other gifts altogether. And, of course, you can simply consider these gifts to be unexpected bonuses (instead of expected obligations) and keep donating them to worthy causes.
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.
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