Dear Annie: My 26-year-old daughter has been married to a wonderful, hardworking man for three years. They have a beautiful child and a nice home. The problem is my son-in-law's mother.
This woman has disliked my daughter from day one, and for no discernible reason. My daughter and her husband tried talking things out with her, but she always returns to her passive-aggressive ways. I try to stay out of it, but it is so hard to watch this woman bring my daughter to tears and try to split this otherwise lovely family apart. Worse, she has most of the other in-laws on her bandwagon.
I understand my son-in-law is caught between a rock and a hard place, but he never stands behind his wife. Whenever the two of them are around his parents, he throws my daughter under the bus. We love our son-in-law, but cannot stand to see our daughter and grandchild treated with such disrespect. It is causing a great deal of strain on this new family.
Is there any polite way to deal with this problem without overstepping? -- Concerned Mother
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Dear Mother: We know how hard this must be for you to watch, but the problem belongs to your daughter, and she must find a way to deal with it. The best thing you can do is offer a sympathetic ear without passing judgment or telling your daughter how to handle her in-laws. But do suggest that she and her husband talk to a professional for guidance. A counselor will help your daughter develop better techniques to deal with this difficult woman, and also make your son-in-law understand the need to stand up to his parents in defense of his wife. The in-laws will never treat her better if he doesn't insist on it.
Dear Annie: I work in an office at a library, and one of my co-workers is continuously babbling and singing loudly. This is distracting and annoying to most of us. "Dwayne" doesn't sit that close to me, but I can still hear him all of the time.
Since Dwayne is pretty well-liked by everyone, we're all uncomfortable asking him to stop the constant noise. Can you think of a nice and/or anonymous way to let him know he is distracting us? -- Driving Us Nuts
Dear Driving: Some people who constantly hum or babble do so because it is soothing. In many cases, they can't help themselves or don't realize they are doing it. We suspect Dwayne is unaware that he is constantly making noises, and certainly has no idea that you are all so annoyed.
Any of you could mention to Dwayne that he seems to sing to himself all day long, and when said in a kind and gentle manner, this is neither insulting nor offensive. However, there is a strong likelihood that Dwayne will continue to hum and babble, because it is an unconscious behavior. He might try to curtail it, but you would have to constantly remind him, and that doesn't appear to be something you are willing to do. Instead, we recommend you invest in a pair of earbuds and either listen to your own music or use them to block out Dwayne's humming.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com, or write to Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.
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