DEAR ABBY: I used to have a great relationship with my mother-in-law. I considered her one of my best friends, until her severe drug and alcohol abuse began to ruin her life. Her mental health issues came out in full force, and her lashing out reached a peak shortly before I married her son. After a barrage of nasty messages, she was no longer welcome at our wedding. I have blocked her from contacting me. She occasionally reaches out to my husband to talk only about herself.
We are thinking about starting a family in the next few years, and I’m terrified of her having access to our child. Do we have an obligation to let her meet our child, or even let her know one exists? She was a terrible mother to my husband (the authorities had to step in, and she was incarcerated) and she relinquished rights to her other child. This screams to me that she shouldn’t have access to any grandchildren.
After she verbally attacked me, I don’t even want her to know if I become pregnant. My husband isn’t completely on board with keeping her in the dark, but he agreed not to tell her anything without us being on the same page. He is a thoughtful husband, but feels bad about being asked to keep such a big secret. I’m filled with anxiety about her even knowing about a baby. I would greatly appreciate your advice. — ANXIOUS IN WISCONSIN
DEAR ANXIOUS: When someone becomes pregnant, they do better with as little stress in their lives as possible. While I admire your husband’s compassion for his volatile, unstable and abusive mother, he needs to accept that involving her in this chapter of your family life might not be the best decision for you or his child. If you can’t get through to him, enlist the help of your doctor and someone with expertise in child development to help him understand that everyone will be healthier if she remains out of the picture. She may find out eventually, but you will be safe in the short term.
DEAR ABBY: I host an annual party for many longtime friends. Some of them bring their (small) dogs, and that’s OK. My problem is, one friend brings their giant dog. The last time “Brutus” was here, it was seen snatching food off the kitchen counter and the dining table. I love this friend, but I don’t love that dog in my kitchen and dining room.
Normally I would just say, “Please don’t bring Brutus,” but I can’t. My friend is now blind and says Brutus is their Seeing Eye dog. (Brutus doesn’t act like any Seeing Eye dog I’ve ever seen. He’s very undisciplined.) I’m at a loss about what to do or say. Do you have any advice for me? — AWKWARD IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR AWKWARD: Yes. Service dogs wear a harness or a vest. They also are trained not to leave their owner’s side. They never behave the way Brutus has, so it’s safe to assume this person may have been less than honest with you about their own status, as well as their dog’s. My advice is to omit this person off your guest list, and if you are asked why, be truthful.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.