Dear Lois: Here's what I have to say to "Crazed Wife," whose mother-in-law came for a "short visit," sleeps on the sofa and obviously discomfits the whole family - particularly since her visit goes on and on.
You said that her husband has to assume his role as head of the family and consider his wife and children ahead of his mother.I would be very surprised if the mother-in-law has done one thing to help with the housework or the children. A young family has hard enough struggles and should be on their own without a fifth wheel living with them.
- Mary Logan, Aurora, Utah
Dear Mary: Grandparents are a blessing - but not when they are under the same roof with a young family. Today, with increased joblessness and the problems of single-parent families, many households find themselves with three generations living together. It seems to me that the only way to make the situation tolerable is try to find an end date when the situation will be no more; set up ground rules concerning space and privacy for everyone; resolve to air grievances as they occur so there will be no smoldering anger among residents in the household.
Dear Lois: I don't know if you'll print my letter, since I'm not a grandparent. I'm a 26-year-old mother of four, but I would like to answer "Fed Up in Florida," who regrets having no grandchildren although her friends do.
I suggest she volunteer her time at a school, children's hospital or even get to know parents and children in her own neighborhood.
My mother was 44 when I was born. Three of my grandparents had already died and the fourth was in a soldier's home, so I grew up without biological grandparents. But I "adopted" a grandmother who lived down the street who was so kind to me.
She even tricked me into eating squash pie, and I'm glad she did!
Adopting a grandchild is not only a blessing for the adoptive grand-parent, but it is a blessing for children who have no grandparents or whose families live too far to visit often.
- Janice Hatt,
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Dear Janice: What a treat to hear from a young mother who knows firsthand how lonesome a boy or girl can feel if there are no grandparents.
You've sent another important reminder to readers. We can solve a lot of problems in our lives if we train ourselves to look out at others as much as we look in at ourselves.
Thank you for your letter. And to you grandparents (real or wannabes) who don't have a child to care for, check with local schools or houses of worship, and see if they can help you find a family who needs a little extra love.
Dear Lois: I never knew my friends could be so cruel. My husband died three months ago (he is the first of the spouses in our group of friends to die) and although everyone invited me at first to join them, I am no longer included in their get-togethers. I cry myself to sleep.
I know you can't do anything about this, but maybe someone will read this and take the hint.
- Depressed in Detroit
Dear Did: Oh, are you wrong. I can do something about this. I can tell you that you'd better stop waiting to have people invite you and start doing a little inviting yourself.
You didn't say, but my guess is that you haven't invited the old crowd to come for dinner or bridge (or whatever your old crowd does) since your husband's death.
Do you call and offer tickets for an event? Do you call and ask another couple to come on over and watch a movie you've rented and give them snacks and warm, friendly conversation?
No one wants to be around a morose person who thinks the world owes her a husband. Widowhood is the pits, but you have to concentrate on containing your sorrows and expanding your talent for friendship and concern for others.
After three months, friends feel (rightly or not) that you can't lay a guilt trip on them because they are not widowed and you are. So chin up. Throw away the handkerchief, and practice smiling again.
A few invitations, a little cheer, and I'll bet you get the old gang on your side once more.