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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Cooperate if you want to see grandkids

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar The Spokesman-Review

Dear Annie: My husband and I have two grandsons, ages 8 and 6. These boys are precious to us.

Our problem is my daughter-in-law. Every so often, she decides to punish us by taking the boys away. The first time was because she felt my husband was sick too often. We were not allowed any contact with the boys for six months. The second time was after I bought some baby ducks for them. She decided the oldest was allergic, and we didn’t see them for three months. (In the meantime, they were turned over to a sitter who smoked.) In addition, she decided that our dog (13 years old with a cancerous tumor) was somehow infecting the boys.

When the boys were last at my house, she was angry because I told them about the Easter Bunny and she didn’t want me to. I think that sort of thing is harmless, but things escalated from there. She has phoned, screaming at us, and sent e-mails telling us she is “saving” the boys from our horrible influence, and that we should have a nice life, because we’ll never see them again.

We have tried family counseling, but she ended up shrieking at the mediator. Unfortunately, our son apparently doesn’t care enough to help. These occasions take their toll, not only on us, but also on the boys. What can we do? – Hurting Grandma

Dear Grandma: Your daughter-in-law sounds like she has a few screws loose, and your son is a piece of macaroni. You’re going to have to tread carefully around them. First, you do need to respect Mom’s authority. Live pets and topics like the Easter Bunny should be off-limits. The rest will require tact. She’s looking for reasons to cut you out, so be as cooperative as possible, and apologize when she is angry with you. It doesn’t matter if you are right. This is what it costs to see your grandchildren.

Dear Annie: One of my co-workers was down on his luck and had to take his car off the road. He was taking a taxi to work, but it was expensive. I offered to pick him up in the morning until he could find a second job.

Six months later, he has done nothing about finding a way to increase his income so he can fix his car. Instead of helping, I feel like I am enabling him. Is it OK to say, “No more free rides”? – One-Way Trip

Dear One Way: By all means. Your co-worker should have offered to pay something for gas, but since he hasn’t, tell him, “Gasoline is expensive, so could you chip in?” Specify how much you think is fair. If he refuses, tell him that picking him up is costing you too much, and suggest he find rides from other people or look into public transportation.

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