Annie's Mailbox: Daughter-in-law steals from us

Dear Annie: My son and daughter-in-law are in their 30s. They have college degrees and good jobs. However, every time they come to visit, I discover things are missing. I'm not imagining it. This happened even when they were dating.

A few years ago, my son told me he'd found some items that he knew belonged to us and didn't think I had given them to his wife. I said I would like them back, but nothing was ever returned. So far, my daughter-in-law hasn't taken anything expensive, and I haven't made a big deal about it.

They now have a child, and I certainly don't want my grandson being taught that it's OK to steal. How do I confront her without causing a rift in the family? Or should I confront her at all?

- Arizona Mother-in-Law

Dear Arizona: Kleptomania is an impulse-control issue and may be associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Counseling and medication may be effective, but your daughter-in-law must be willing to admit she needs help. Talk to your son and explain to him how important it is that his wife work on this before it affects their child. He isn't doing her any favors by ignoring the problem.

Dear Annie: My wife's great-niece is getting married shortly. She is having a bridal shower the same week as the wedding.

The bride and groom have been living together for a while and already are set up as far as household items. What is the proper protocol for gifts in this situation? Is my wife required to give a gift for both events, or is one present proper? And if one, at which occasion should it be given?

- In a Quandary

Dear Quandary: Regardless of when the events take place, the custom of giving both a shower gift and a wedding gift is the same. Since the two are so close together, if your wife wishes to give one larger gift to cover both occasions, she may do so. If she attends the shower, however, she should bring an inexpensive token gift. The wedding present should be sent to their home.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. 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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