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Doing in-laws’ chores a burden

Thu., Aug. 31, 2006

Dear Annie: I am at the end of my rope. My husband’s parents are almost 80 and are constantly trying to manipulate their children through guilt.

Recently, my mother-in-law proceeded to tell my husband and me that “one of her sons” needed to clean out the gutters and paint the eaves and she had no money to do it. Within the hour, I heard her ask if she should add to her collection of fine china. Later, we learned that Mom had won a jackpot while gambling. I suggested her next jackpot could be used to hire someone to paint the eaves and clean the gutters, and she replied that this was her gambling money and she wasn’t spending it on home repairs.

My husband is almost 50. His job is physically demanding, and periodically, there is mandatory overtime. While one brother-in-law has helped a lot, the other one hasn’t done squat.

If my in-laws have money to buy collectibles and gamble, shouldn’t they be responsible for the upkeep of their home? I not only don’t want to socialize with my husband’s parents, but I dislike his married sisters, too. They both use this “drama mama” routine to guilt their parents and others into providing free child care.

I’ve never met a family so full of miserly, manipulative and whiny people. What can I do? – Getting Ready To Blow My Top in the Midwest

Dear Getting Ready: You married into this family, so it would be best to find a way to deal with them. Children should help their elderly parents when they can, and many older folks are reluctant to part with their money if they have children who will do chores for free. It’s also likely that your in-laws do not recognize that their children are getting older as well, and cleaning the gutters may be too much.

Your husband and his siblings should talk to their parents about their chores. They might even be willing to pay someone else to do it. Also, some churches and community centers have volunteers who will help with this sort of activity.

Dear Annie: I have a friend who always begins her conversations with, “What are you doing tomorrow?” This is really annoying and puts me in an awkward position, because I don’t know where she is headed or what she might want.

How can I get her to stop asking if my day is free? – Feeling Cornered

Dear Cornered: Some people are reluctant to be direct and mistakenly believe they are being more polite to ask your plans first. But you are right that it puts you on the spot. The correct response to “What are you doing tomorrow?” is “Why do you ask?” Then you’ll find out what she wants before committing yourself.


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