Ask Amy: Granny leaps over family's culture chasm

FresnoJanuary 20, 2014 

Dear Amy: My relationship with my mother-in-law has always been difficult.

I recently discovered that she gave my 15-year-old daughter a vibrator and told her not to tell me. When I confronted my mother-in-law about it, she defended her actions. She said that she wanted her granddaughter to enjoy her body.

I'm furious and want to end all contact with this woman. My husband is embarrassed about the matter and says that I should just let it go. Should I?

— Furious

Dear Furious: You are raising your daughter according to your values. You have a right to do this. Most parents wouldn't want another family member to supply a teenager with a sex toy.

Your mother-in-law should never ask your daughter to keep a secret from her own parents. Your focus should be on your daughter, who is likely bewildered by this dynamic. Explain to her that her grandmother has overstepped by a mile and that you have spoken to her about it. I hope you will also talk to her about sex with an open and nonpunitive attitude.

I don't think it's necessary to end all contact with your mother-in-law, but you should limit opportunities for private interactions from grandmother to granddaughter.

Dear Amy: I have been married for 39 years and enjoy a great relationship with my wife, with one exception.

We own a lake house and enjoy having company. The one problem we have is that my in-laws take advantage of our hospitality.

While they have their own place at the lake, they eat dinner seven days a week at our house.

I have asked my wife to limit these dinners to twice a week, but she does not want to hurt their feelings. Meanwhile, friends and people from my side of the family drive by and do not stop to visit when they see the crowd.

I feel very taken advantage of.

— Hurt husband

Dear Hurt:

It is obvious that your wife enjoys this time with her family.

However, it is also obvious that your wife puts her other family members' comfort above yours, at least in this regard. But you are her partner for all seasons. You deserve a break, and she should work with you to get one. You should kindly say to them, "I am beat from my days at work and need some quiet and private time. It would work best for me if we could limit your dinners here so I can wind down during the workweek. I know you all love being together, and it's fun to share this with you, but I want more alone time."


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