Dear Abby: Intrusive mother-in-law must be locked out

Monday, April 17, 2017 3:37 PM

DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law recently moved close to us. She has a nice home and has lots of friends in the area, but she doesn’t want any of them to come visit.

Abby, her entire focus is on us! She walks right into our home, although she has been asked several times not to. She goes through my things and takes whatever she wants without asking. I can never relax unless my husband isn’t home and I have locked the doors so she can’t barge in. When he is here, she comes over, walks in, and if we have company, thinks she should join our guests.

I recently retired, and I get anxious because I want it peaceful, but with her invading our privacy, it’s anything but. I have grown children I adore, but I don’t want them walking in either, and they never would. It took me years to have a home life with my husband because he was a longtime bachelor, and for years his buddies would drop by unannounced. Now it’s his mother!

I feel like the bad guy, but I just want what most people do – to feel content in my own home. What else can I do? – Wants to Run Away

DEAR WANTS TO RUN AWAY: You should not have to feel like a prisoner in your own home. Keep all the entrances securely locked, especially the front door. While you’re at it, if you haven’t already done so, tell her to stay out of your belongings because you don’t want any more items to “disappear.”

Because your MIL won’t listen to you, have your husband tell his mother not to drop in without calling first. If she does it anyway, when she shows up, rather than “ask” her not to do it, tell her and don’t let her in.

DEAR ABBY: I am one of your male readers. I took in a teenager on his 17th birthday because he wanted to leave an abusive, neglectful situation from his mother and her husband. I have known him since he was 4. During the time he has been here, we have bonded, and his appearance and attitude have improved. With his permission, I recently legally adopted him.

Our problem is that people are making comments that this is a sexual thing, which is absolutely not true. How can I quash these statements? He is very grateful to have a loving dad now but is afraid of backlashes. – Adult Adoption

DEAR A.A.: The problem with rumors of this kind is that some people love to speculate and truth has nothing to do with it. Unless you can pinpoint where the rumors are coming from, nothing you or your son can do will prove they are untrue. If that should change, however, there may be legal steps you could consider – because accusations that someone is taking advantage of a minor could be considered slander.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, “Jerry Jr.,” was named after his father. He had two sons, “Jerry III” and “Bobby.” When Jerry III had a son, he decided not to carry on the tradition and named his son “Stephen.” Now Bobby is expecting a son and would like to name him Jerry to honor his father. Our question is, would this child be Jerry IV, since he’s part of the same immediate family? Or would he just be Jerry, since his father has a different name? – All in The Family

DEAR ALL IN THE FAMILY: That should be up to Bobby to decide. From where I sit, the baby would be just plain Jerry, unless your clan is planning on starting a dynasty.

DEAR ABBY: I have been a teacher for many years, and several times a year, I encounter a dilemma I hope you can finally solve for me. When staff members get together for a potluck meal, is it bad manners to eat whatever dish you brought? When we have these meals, I always feel like I should eat my co-workers’ contributions and leave mine for others to enjoy.

My fiancee – who loves to cook – enjoys preparing things for me to contribute. She thinks I’m silly for not partaking of whatever she makes for me to bring, especially if it’s my favorite dessert. We read your column every day, so we decided to ask you what’s the right way to handle this common social dilemma. – To Pie or not to Pie

DEAR TO PIE OR NOT TO PIE: The considerate thing would be to take a small slice of the dessert so that the other attendees can enjoy it, too, then wait until you’re sure that everyone who wants a sample has finished before going back to polish it off or lick the tin.

Sunday, April 16Give everyone chance at potluck

DEAR ABBY: I am a young stay-at-home mom who loves to get out and meet people. I have a tendency to make friends with direct sales representatives. But once I have hosted a party or bought some of their merchandise to support them, I become a customer and the friendship ceases to exist. Is there a polite way to tell them I would rather not buy the product or host a party without losing their friendship? – Friendly in Montana

DEAR FRIENDLY: You have been confusing friendship with business. People who cozy up to others to get them to buy a product or host a party are salespeople, not friends. And no, there isn’t a “polite” way to tell someone like the folks you have described they haven’t made the sale and maintain a “friendship” that never was one in the first place. You might have better luck finding friends if you reached out to other young mothers for companionship.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been happily married for more than 15 years. His former wife has never gotten over him. She has sent him many emails and text messages. He never responds. Her most recent ploy was to sign up with an assortment of vendors to receive mail at our home. We also get phone calls from solicitors asking for her.

Although we live in the same city, this has never been her home. It goes without saying that she needs to get over it and move on. I’m tempted to put “Forward to (her address)” on the mail, but I don’t want to egg her on. To me, it’s harassment, and possibly stalking.

What do you think? – Had It with Her

DEAR HAD IT: Your husband’s former wife appears to have emotional problems, and I agree that what she’s doing is a form of harassment.

You are certainly within your rights to redirect any mail that’s addressed to her to her home. Contact the post office to see what can be done. And if solicitors call, either give them her correct phone number or consider having your number changed to one that’s unlisted.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.