DEAR ANNIE: My husband's parents are wonderful people in their late 70s, but I am concerned that their kindness is being abused by my brother-in-law, "Dan," and his wife, "Jane." My in-laws have always been involved in their grandchildren's lives, but lately it has become taxing for them both physically and mentally.
Dan and Jane call on them for baby-sitting day and night. Often they drop the three kids off the evening before. My in-laws always oblige, even though the youngest is not even a year old.
Last spring, Dan lost his job. He now is home all day, but the kids are still with Grandma and Grandpa a lot of the time. Twice in the last two months, Dan and Jane strolled in well after 1:00 a.m. and my in-laws had to drive themselves home in the wee hours. Saturday, Dan dropped the kids off at Grandma's while he went golfing with a neighbor. Yet he complains that they don't have enough money to hire a sitter.
I have taken Dan's kids when my schedule allows, but I think it is irresponsible for them to expect his parents to be their children's caregivers. I have been biting my tongue, but it is obvious to everyone that they are taking advantage of his parents. Should I speak up? I don't want to cause a family feud. -- Fuming Over Freeloaders
DEAR FUMING: Your husband should talk to his brother, explaining that it's becoming difficult for Mom and Dad to take care of such young children, and urge him not to count on them so often. You are a caring daughter-in-law, but to a great extent, this is up to your in-laws. Until they decide they've had enough, there's not much you can do.
DEAR ANNIE: My brother "Tim" passed away from cancer two months ago. He had never married. Within hours, my younger brother and his wife actually went through Tim's house and took what they wanted. My own mother kept all the money from his sympathy cards instead of using it to help pay for a headstone.
Even before the funeral, several family members took over Tim's house and property and went through his personal things. Whatever they didn't want, they handed to whoever was around. I live several states away, and right now, I don't ever want to speak to these relatives again. Your thoughts, please. -- It's Hard Enough To Lose a Loved One
DEAR HARD ENOUGH: Some people behave in appalling ways when a loved one dies. What seems like greed could also have been a way for family members to keep something of Tim's to remember him by, although your mother's behavior is hard to excuse. Please try to find a way to forgive them.
To write to Annie's Mailbox, send to c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.