Dear Annie: I am having a problem with my mother-in-law. My husband is so upset that he doesn't plan to speak to her again.
My mother-in-law is a smoker. So are my husband, mother and father-in-law. We have asked everyone to smoke outside because I have young children and one has upper-respiratory issues. We have a screened-in porch with comfortable furniture where people are welcome to enjoy themselves. No one has a problem with this except my mother-in-law. She refuses to smoke outside. In addition, she refuses to visit unless she can smoke wherever she wants.
Mom doesn't believe smoking causes health issues, so we no longer allow our daughter to visit Mom at her home. In the past, our daughter has come home with inflamed bronchial tubes, requiring a nebulizer to breathe.
Mom has turned this into a major feud, saying we are disrespectful to her. In her attempts to force us to allow her to smoke in the house, she has said some pretty nasty things to my husband. My husband is a wonderful son and has always been there for his mother whenever she needed anything. Now he is "dead" to her.
Mom has told the entire family that we cut off access to the grandchildren "for no reason." She sent my parents a lengthy e-mail to "let them know what we were doing to her." She phoned our 10-year-old daughter and said Mommy and Daddy won't let her visit. She told her to work on convincing us to let her smoke inside.
We have never said a bad word to this woman. We always speak to her calmly, but we are not going to give in about the smoking. We've begged her to visit more often so our daughter can see her, but she refuses to abide by the rules. What can we do?
Dear Texas: Nothing. You have made your home welcoming to smokers and non-smokers alike. Your mother-in-law is being a selfish pain in the behind and values her convenience over her family. This is HER choice. Continue to be calm, but do not give in. Shame on her.
Dear Annie: I am a 46-year-old single mother of two. I recently had an interview at a small company and was asked whether I was married and had children.
I thought this was against the law. I answered truthfully, and I believe that's why I did not get the job, but how do I prove it? How am I supposed to answer such questions in the future without appearing rude or evasive? I know I cannot possibly be the only one who has had to face this sticky situation.
— Discriminated Against
Dear Discriminated: Prospective employers are not supposed to ask about your marital status, religion, age or whether you have children. Asking if you have children is another way of finding out whether you might have trouble working overtime or weekends. You can respond indirectly by saying that you are capable of performing whatever duties are required and putting in the necessary time. You also could say that you prefer to keep your personal life private and don't feel comfortable talking about those things.
If you feel you've been discriminated against, contact your state board of labor, the National Labor Relations Board or the EEOC.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Female Seeking Friendship," who wants to meet new people. I was surprised you didn't mention meetup.com.
After relocating to Florida, I went online and found many meetup groups in our area for all ages and interests. I have joined four and developed great friendships. If she's from a small town, she might have to travel to the closest city, or she can form her own meetup group for young adults in her area. -- MJ
Dear MJ: Thanks for the reminder. We've mentioned meetup.com before and should have done so again.
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