Dear Annie: My husband and I have two daughters, ages 11 and 7. Last year, we took a family vacation with my mother-in-law. Now she thinks we should do it every year.
I would like the opportunity to take a family vacation with only my husband and children. When Mom asked where we were going this year, my husband told her we weren’t sure if we were taking a trip. She then asked if she could take our girls on vacation without us. My husband and I agreed it would be too difficult if something happened while the girls were traveling, and it was best not to let them go. Also, I don’t want my girls away from me for more than a few days.
Now Mom has brought up the vacation to my 11-year-old and keeps pressuring my husband about it. I have no idea what he’s telling her, but he now tells me it isn’t fair that Mom is not allowed to come on our vacation or take the girls on her own.
I think she should stop trying to guilt my husband into supporting this. I don’t mind taking the blame, but she’ll undoubtedly cry and say it’s because we don’t trust her. Am I overreacting? Shouldn’t my husband stand up to her? Isn’t she wrong to keep pushing it? I hope she will read this and stop asking.
— Want My Girls Home
Dear Want: Many grandparents take the kids for independent vacations — it provides a special experience and wonderful memories. Unless Grandma is incompetent, your 11-year-old certainly is old enough to do this, and you might want to rethink your position.
However, Grandma must respect your privacy and your parental authority. She should not interfere with your family vacation plans or the rules you have for your children.
As long as your husband gives Mom the impression that she can wear you down, she will keep trying. Talk to him, listen to each other’s opinions, and then present a united front.
Dear Annie: I have a very special cat named Bill who talks when he wants something. He has a two-word vocabulary. One word is “helloooo,” for when he is being ignored, and the other word is “Mom,” for when his food dish is empty.
Have you heard of any other cats that seem to speak? Some people react with disbelief when I tell them about my cat.
— Bill’s Human Mom
Dear Mom: If you visit YouTube, you can find a dizzying array of video clips of cats and dogs “speaking.” Of course, a great deal of this is, shall we say, subject to interpretation. But loving owners undoubtedly hear those sounds as actual words, and who are we to doubt them?
Dear Annie: You told “Confused in Illinois” that you are not in favor of her husband exercising in the nude in front of his 12-year-old daughter.
There is nothing wrong with simple nudity in the home, as you also said. But why must he wear shorts? America has a body phobia that’s causing an epidemic of harm.
I know entire families who live in the nude at home, and their kids tend to be much better adjusted in these matters than those from “normal” families.
I suggest that you not promote something that isn’t sensible in this situation. Being alarmist about nothing helps no one.
— P.R., Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Dear Canada: According to our mail, you are in the minority. Most of our readers were appalled that this man would expose himself to his young daughter, regardless of the circumstances. (Quite a few wanted him arrested.)
In a home filled with practicing nudists, it is not unusual or abusive for children to see their parents naked. But in most homes, this is not the case. If Mom is uncomfortable with the situation, she should insist her husband wear shorts.
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.