DEAR ABBY: When parents who live many miles away from their adult children visit their homes, to what extent should they be treated as "guests"? When we visit our son, our daughter-in-law gets herself a snack and then sits down to eat it and watch TV, and there we sit. She never offers us a thing. Are we expecting too much or doesn't she have any manners?
Also, when we have a meal in their home, they get their own beverages and never mention anything about what is available to us. We're not used to this kind of treatment. Have you any thoughts on how to handle this without causing any rift?
- Disrespected in Michigan
DEAR DISRESPECTED: Assume that your daughter-in-law behaves this way because she doesn't know any better. As for your son, because he wasn't raised this way, he is either thoughtless, rude or following his wife's lead.
Because you're all family, things should be informal. The way to handle it is to speak up and tell your hosts that you're hungry and/or thirsty, too. If it's said with a smile, it shouldn't cause a rift.
DEAR ABBY: "Bill" and I have gone together for three years. He's a wonderful, sweet man. We have talked about taking our relationship to the next level. I'm hesitant because I suspect he's a high-functioning alcoholic.
Bill doesn't seem to crave a drink when he's with me, but he does crave being in bars in the company of men who sit for hours over drinks and then get out on the Interstate. I don't want to be his mother or his hall monitor, but I'm afraid I have become his enabler.
We are in our early retirement years and the thought that his drinking will get worse has made me afraid. I love Bill. I can't seem to move forward, yet I resist walking away.
We have discussed my feelings many times, and he says he has cut down the amount he drinks and there's nothing to worry about. Yet, I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
- Sick Feeling in Texas
DEAR SICK FEELING: Listen to your intuition. I don't know how often Bill "craves" the company of men who sit for hours in bars becoming increasingly inebriated, but if it is more than "occasionally," then I agree you may have cause for concern.
It would be a good idea for you to attend some Al-Anon meetings before your relationship with Bill goes further, because he may be in denial about the importance of alcohol in his life. The meetings are easy to find; Al-Anon is listed in your phone directory and can be found at al-anon.org.