KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR | Annie's Mailbox Grandma blew it by sneaking a cigarette
Dear Annie: I have a young daughter with asthma and a mother-in-law who smokes. No matter how much literature I show Mom, she refuses to believe her smoking has anything to do with "Allie's" asthma attacks.
I have tried keeping my daughter at a slight distance when Gram visits, but I want the two of them to have a good relationship. Recently, we made an agreement that Mom would not smoke around Allie, but I caught her sneaking a cigarette in the bathroom. Mom apologized and promised to smoke outside from now on, so I allowed Allie to spend the night at Gram's house. When I came to pick her up, Allie told me Gram smoked right in front of her, and when Allie called her on it, Gram told her to go back to bed.
I have informed my mother-in-law that we will never again come over because she has chosen her habit over her granddaughter. However, now she is telling my husband how sorry she is and how much she wants Allie to come back to her house. She refuses to come to my home because she now feels uncomfortable.
Should I trust her again? I'm not convinced she will behave any better. This has caused many arguments with my husband, but neither of us wants to risk our daughter's health. What should we do? Concerned Mother in Arizona
Dear Mother: According to the American Lung Association, children with asthma are at increased risk when they breathe secondhand smoke. Your mother-in-law knows this, but is too addicted to break the habit. This means, regardless of her intentions, she is likely to smoke in Allie's presence, especially in her own home.
Tell Gram she can see her granddaughter in your house, when you are there, but she must smoke outside. Let her know if she makes a sincere effort to quit, you will provide as much encouragement as possible. If she is successful, Allie will again be permitted to sleep at her house. Make sure your husband backs you up.
Dear Annie: I'm sending you a three-week sampling of the death notices from the Times in northwest Indiana. Evidently, nobody read your response when you said it was improper for the family to publicly ask for money.
If people are going to continue this practice, why not end the obituary with: "For over 77 years, Ralph did not prepare for the eventuality of his death. Would you please send me money so that I can bury the old fool?" Or, how about this one: "I lived with Zeb for more than 55 years and put up with his stupid ways and bad behavior. Now that he is dead, I deserve a vacation. Please send money so I can go on an extended cruise."
It seems that this practice of asking for money is only in northwest Indiana. I have children living elsewhere, and they said they have never seen requests for money in their local obituary section. Maybe if you put your reply in bold print, people would get the message. Carol from NW Indiana
Dear Carol: We suspect this practice goes on in many places outside northwest Indiana, but we'll try one more time: It is improper to put requests for money in the death notice, unless it is a donation to charity. If the family is in need of financial assistance, it would be a kindness for friends to take up a collection on their own, without publicizing the family's situation in the newspaper.
Dear Readers: Today is Administrative Professionals Day (formerly known as National Secretary's Day). If you have assistants who make your job easier, let them know how much they are appreciated.
XE-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, Ill. 60611.