DEAR ABBY: My son is being deployed for 10 months. His wife and baby are coming to live with me, and I am thrilled.
My concern is that his wife is a picky eater and she doesn't do much around the house. Would it be too much to ask her to help with the chores while my husband and I are at work? How do I handle the mealtime dilemma? (She doesn't cook).
I don't want her to feel like she's our live-in maid or that we're mean about the meals we prepare. We want to be the best in-laws we can be. Help? — MEANING WELL IN THE EAST
DEAR MEANING WELL: After your daughter-in-law arrives, schedule a family meeting during which everyone's household responsibilities will be discussed. If necessary, create a chart to keep track of them. If there are things she is able to do, assign them to her. If she's clueless, then teach her. Do not overload her, and make sure she understands that you and your husband also have chores you will be doing.
Because she's a picky eater, ask her to list what items she wants in the house so they are available. If she's interested, offer to show her how to prepare some of the dishes your son has always enjoyed because it would be a nice surprise for him once he returns. And arrange regular monthly meetings, so that if adjustments need to be made, they can be done without hurt feelings or misunderstandings.
You are all adults. If you want this to work and are all willing to communicate and listen, you should be able to accomplish your goal without your daughter-in-law feeling like the maid.
DEAR ABBY: My daughter and her husband are taking their three boys to Europe for five weeks. The 13-year-old has been acting out. He has been rude to his school bus driver, disrespectful to his mother, was the "class clown," and shows all the signs of an uncomfortable pubescent boy without a safety net to catch him.
We are two states apart, so it would be difficult to lend a hand. My grandsons are very close to me, and there are lots of tears when they leave Grandma.
I taught inner-city school for 20 years and have often told my daughter how important consistency is. This precious boy is pleading for attention the wrong way. The other two boys, ages 9 and 12, are not problematic kids.
My fear is that the 13-year-old is not ready or mature enough to handle five weeks in Europe, and not disciplined enough to keep his cool. He is capable of a caper that may lead to his disappearance.
Am I crazy to be this concerned? I have told my daughter my thoughts, but she is the mother, so I am treading lightly. — WORRYING IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR WORRYING: Are you "crazy"? No. You are a loving, caring grandmother who is worried about her grandson. But regardless of how well-meaning you are, this isn't your decision to make. If you have shared your thoughts with your daughter, you have done as much as you can. Now cross your fingers and wish them bon voyage.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.