Dear Annie: My son-in-law drinks too much. Throughout the years, I’ve seen “Ted” overindulge at weddings, and I notice he consumes a tremendous amount of beer. Lately, my worry has turned from concern to alarm.
They live far away, but we spent a few days with them during the holidays. Ted now starts with wine in the afternoon and has half a dozen beers every night while watching TV. Whenever they go out, my daughter is the driver. When he goes out alone, he takes a cab.
I don’t think this is normal behavior. My daughter says nothing about his drinking, though she made one comment about his not helping around the house. She is expecting their first child soon, and he will have to drive her to the hospital. What if he’s been drinking?
Ted recently lost his job. (I’m not sure why.) I thought my husband, who has been a recovered alcoholic for more than 30 years, would be the perfect person to talk to him. But he thinks we shouldn’t get involved. I am worried sick about the safety and emotional health of my daughter, not to mention their financial future. If I bring this up, am I being a caring mother or an interfering mother-in-law?
— Worried Mom
Dear Worried: At least Ted knows not to get behind the wheel, which gives you an opportunity to say something: Ask your daughter who will be driving her to the hospital when she goes into labor. Be very matter-of-fact when you make sure it’s not Ted. She’ll understand why. Then suggest she call Al-Anon (al-anon.alateen.org) at 1-888-4AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666). You can call them, too. If she tells you to back off, say nothing more.
Dear Annie: I started a small catering business a few years ago. My husband’s sister asked me to create some Christmas food gifts for some family members. I sent catered meals to the ones who live nearby and shipped gift baskets to the two out-of-towners.
I spent time shopping for the baskets, as well as spending money of my own to mail them. My sister-in-law sent me a check for the cost of the baskets but did not include anything for my time or the cost of the shipping. In the past, she always has remembered to send extra when I have done this for her. She also did not send my husband or me a holiday gift, even though she has before.
I know this sounds petty, and she has done many nice things for us throughout the years, but I can’t help feeling used and slighted. I don’t want to cause a scene, but it makes me angry. Should I say something or let it go for the sake of peace in the family?
Dear Insulted: Please let it go. Since your sister-in-law always has been good about these things in the past, we assume they slipped her mind this time and she meant no offense. If you make baskets for her again, gently remind her of the cost of shipping when you discuss the food items. This is your catering business. It’s a good idea to make your prices clear, even to family members.
Dear Annie: In your response to “Just Wondering in Southern California,” you used the word “germophobia.” Is it something that you made up, or can you cite a source?
I did a Google search, and “verminophobe” may have been a better choice to describe someone with a fear of germs.
— A Crossword Puzzle Solver
Dear Puzzle Solver: We have used “germophobia” before, and so have our readers. We have no idea what the etymology is. It’s a slang term, although you can find it in Wikipedia and other online sources.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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.