KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR | Annie's Mailbox 'Lucy' has no intention of cooking
Dear Annie: Our son married "Lucy" last September, and both of them are now living with us and paying rent.
Here's the problem: Lucy doesn't cook. She says she "wasn't raised to make food from scratch." I have tried to get her interested in learning to prepare a few things that my son loves to eat, but she refuses to touch anything in the kitchen. Lucy also doesn't want to help clean the main bathroom, which we all share.
Whenever I tell Lucy that she needs to do more around the house, she offers the lame excuse, "I don't know how," and then does nothing. This girl is 31 years old, and she ought to know how to cook and clean. For months, I have offered to teach her, but it seems nothing penetrates. I said we should each cook our own meals, but so far, they aren't doing it, and I'm still supplying dinner every night.
Do you have any advice for me? Disgusted in Texas
Dear Disgusted: Yes. Lucy is perfectly capable of learning these skills, but she is unwilling. She has no intention of cooking or cleaning, despite your offers to teach her. Does your son cook and clean? If not, why don't you offer to teach him? These are not "women's" jobs, and both Lucy and her husband should be pitching in.
If you want this young couple to cook for themselves, stop providing them with meals. Set up a cleaning and cooking schedule that includes everyone in the house. Tell them you expect each person to do his or her share, and if they refuse, they will be charged additional rent to pay for cleaning and cooking help. And make it stick, Mom, or you will be their cook and housekeeper until the day they move out.
Dear Annie: Last year, I spent spring break at home, and managed to see only my immediate family and close friends. When I left to go back to school, I realized, too late, that I hadn't visited my grandmother.
I didn't know how deeply I had offended Grandma until my birthday, weeks later, when she neither called nor sent a card. She later told me, "I deliberately forgot because you didn't come and visit me on spring break." I apologized profusely, but she is still trying to make me feel guilty, and she has enlisted the entire family's cooperation in being angry with me, which is why there is a problem.
My uncle and his family sided with Grandma and have become impossible to deal with. Last Christmas was a total disaster. Spring break is coming up soon, and I feel as if I should somehow patch things up, but I have no idea how. Right now, I'm not sure it's worth it. Any ideas? Lawrence, Kan.
Dear Lawrence: It is childish of Grandma to hold a grudge, and worse, to insist that the rest of the family cater to her foolishness. Nonetheless, she is your grandmother and deserves extra consideration. This spring break, visit her as soon as you get into town. Be sweet and loving. Call at least twice while you are at home, so she is convinced you are thinking of her. She may not deserve such concern, but do it anyway for the sake of family harmony. Next year, consider going out of town.
Dear Annie: My fiance wants to invite his ex-mother-in-law to our wedding. I feel this is our day, and I do not want her there. On other occasions when we have invited his ex-M-I-L, all she talks about is his ex-wife. This is our new beginning. Do I have to include her? Need Advice in Tennessee
Dear Tennessee: No. It's nice that your fiance still feels close to the woman, and it would be gracious of you to include her, but you are not obligated to do so. Instead, invite her over when you next entertain in your home.
XE-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, Ill. 60611.