DEAR ABBY: My husband's sister "Cassie" and I got along well until we had kids. Our children are months apart in age, and parenting has brought out the differences in our beliefs in a way that has made it hard for us to get along.
I'm a proponent of Western medicine. My kids are vaccinated. We take them to the doctor, give them antibiotics when their doctor prescribes them and emphasize a balanced diet.
Cassie is a proponent of alternative medicine. She doesn't vaccinate her kids, keeps a vegan house and uses homeopathic remedies and meditation to combat illness. This difference has resulted in heated arguments about what's best for kids, and we have not been able to "agree to disagree."
Recently she sent me a large, and probably expensive, set of herbal remedies as a "gift." If it were from someone else, I'd thank her and give the set to someone who would use it. But in light of our ongoing "debates," this feels like a passive-aggressive dig at my values. It would be like me sending her a grass-fed steak and a wheel of Brie. How should I respond?
- Different Medical Beliefs
DEAR D.M.B.: Don't overreact. Write Cassie a sweet note thanking her for her "thoughtfulness" and give the unwanted gift to someone who might use it or toss it. Do NOT let this degenerate into another argument. And let's hope that her children continue to enjoy good health.
Teenager has wholesome values
DEAR ABBY: I am mature for being 16. However, I have a few quirks that I prefer not to tell anyone about because when I do, most of the feedback I get is negative.
First, I don't like watching PG-13 movies, so my favorite TV shows and movies are for kids. My mom and sister keep telling me how dumb and stupid it is and that they're surprised I don't watch things "more my age." I don't call their shows stupid. I hate telling people my favorite TV shows because of the kind of reaction I get from the people close to me.
Second, I LOVE stuffed animals. Last time I counted, I had around 60. All of them have value to me and make me happy. Is there something wrong with having that many? One of my sister's famous quotes is, "How come you have them if you don't use them?" Occasionally she has tried to take stuff from me because of her "philosophy."
Is there something wrong with me? Or should I ignore the nasty comments?
- Kid At Heart In The Midwest
DEAR KID AT HEART: There is no accounting for taste. Many adults still read the funnies. I know this for certain because I am one of them.
We ALL have our quirks, and that includes your mother and your sister. Yours harm no one, and if they bring you pleasure, I see no reason not to indulge yourself. Your mom and sister may be teasing you, so stop rising to the bait.
P.S. Your sister may think your stuffed animal collection is juvenile, but she shouldn't be taking them without your permission because that's stealing, and stealing IS a serious problem.