Dear Annie: When my son married six years ago, my wife and I welcomed his bride into our family with open arms. I knew my daughter-in-law had views that were much different from mine, but I was confident that we could coexist. I helped them with projects in their new home, and we got along rather well. We attended dinners and get-togethers at their house.
The waters got rather rough when I discovered she had written a letter to the editor in our local paper that contradicted my beliefs and principles. I brought up the subject with my son, and it led to a lengthy argument. I certainly recognize that we are privileged in this great country to be able to express ourselves openly, but I believe there is such a thing as propriety. I considered the letter a personal affront, and it ultimately caused alienation. My son did not even wish me a happy Father’s Day or acknowledge my birthday this past year.
I told my son I am willing to talk about the situation anytime they want, but so far they have declined. What is your opinion?
Dear Dad: We think you took something personally that was not intended to insult you. Your daughter-in-law is entitled to write a letter to the editor expressing her views whether or not you agree with her. Unless she publicly named you as an adversary, you should have let it slide. In fact, touchy subjects should be off limits unless you know you can have a debate without creating ill will.
You need this to go away in order to regain your relationship. Call or write your son. Apologize for opening this can of worms and promise not to bring up the subject in the future. Say you “agree to disagree.” We hope your daughter-in-law will accept the ceasefire.
Dear Annie: When my friend’s husband died, she requested that people send checks to help pay for his gravestone. I’d never heard of that before. It wasn’t because she didn’t have the money. When she moved a year after his death, she completely renovated an older home.
Since her husband died from cancer, I thought my money would be better placed donating to cancer research, which I did. Was I wrong to do this? Is paying for the gravestone a new trend?
— Living in a Different World
Dear Living: We hope not. When families are in financial straits, contributing to funeral costs is welcome. But soliciting for a gravestone when one can easily afford it is in poor taste. Naturally, any such request is voluntary and optional. We think your donation was lovely and appropriate.
Dear Annie: I have better advice for “Suffocating in Louisville,” whose co-worker wears too much perfume. She should talk with her boss about a fragrance-free policy. If her doctor will write a letter stating that she needs a fragrance-free environment, they would have to implement it or be subject to a lawsuit. Suffering from this type of pollutant is a legitimate disability.
I have migraines caused by perfume, cologne, aftershave, scented lotions and air fresheners. It doesn’t matter if it is one drop or 20, the result is the same: instant migraine, burning eyes and scratchy throat. I love my job and didn’t want to quit. My boss was instrumental in making the changes for me.
For some people, it is automatic to put on fragrance when getting ready for work. If they know this could jeopardize their job, they will adjust to not using offensive products. If the business is not willing to change, they should contact ada.gov.
— Fragrance Free at Work in S.D.
Dear Readers: Today is Mother-in-Law Day. Please give yours a call.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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