Dreadlocks have come between the in-laws

Dear Annie: For 18 years, I had a great relationship with my mother-in-law, but last year she did something totally out of bounds.

During my daughter’s last year of high school, she talked about getting dreadlocks. I didn’t want her to graduate looking like a freak and spoil her chances of finding a decent job, not to mention that getting rid of dreads can be nearly impossible. My mother-in-law was well aware of how I felt and also knew I had told my daughter she was not to dread her hair while living under my roof. Three days before my daughter turned 18, she got dreadlocks at my mother-in-law’s house.

Annie, in the past, I have allowed my daughter to get some crazy haircuts and color her hair pink. Against my better judgment, I have also permitted her to dress like a weirdo and put holes where they don’t belong. I am well aware that if her grandmother hadn’t allowed her to do the dreads at her house, she would have done them somewhere else.

The point I keep trying to make to my husband is that I feel completely betrayed by his mother, who knew my daughter was doing this and didn’t tell me. She has never apologized, and worse, my husband thinks she didn’t do anything wrong. Therefore, we fight about it all the time. The more he defends her, the more I resent her. I now refuse to attend family functions if she will be there. Last week, he said, “If something happens to my mom and you are still not talking to her, I won’t forgive you.”

I feel his mother is being completely disrespectful to us and it’s causing stress in my marriage. Am I wrong? Disappointed Daughter-in-Law

Dear Daughter-in-Law: Your mother-in-law undermined your authority as a parent. She should apologize, and your husband should back you up. However, let’s look at the bigger picture. Your daughter would have done this anyway. Also, she is now 18 and decisions about her appearance are her own. If you continue to hold a grudge, you will alienate your husband, your marriage will suffer and your daughter will still have dreadlocks. You can’t force others to behave the way you wish. You can only decide how you will respond. Take a deep breath, understand that your mother-in-law is not trustworthy, and then let it go. As for your husband, at least you know where you stand — and it’s somewhere behind his mother.

Dear Annie: Where can I donate unused frequent flyer miles to servicemen? I have paid off two credit cards and plan to cancel them, and at the same time donate the miles to the people who could really use them the most. Thanks. Bobby

Dear Bobby: Bless you for asking. The Fisher House Foundation administers the “Hero Miles” program for the Department of Defense to assist service members and their families. Contact them through their Web site at fisherhouse.org or at 1401 Rockville Pike, Suite 600, Rockville, MD 20852.

Dear Annie: I am an avid reader of your column and impressed with your common sense approach to people’s problems. But I disagree with the advice given to “Silent in Seattle.” You recommended she not tell her daughters that their father is a miserable cheater who also patronizes prostitutes. She is planning to divorce him after the girls complete high school. What will they think when Mom finally leaves? She says he is a great father and they will hate her for breaking up their family. Please rethink that advice. Perplexed in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Dear Poughkeepsie: It’s OK for children to know their parents are having problems (most already do), but this kind of detailed information can be destructive. Mom shouldn’t surprise the children with a sudden divorce, but confiding his infidelities could wreck the relationship they have with Dad, and that mainly hurts the children.

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