New in-law pines for love of son’s wife

Baltimore Sun - - ENTERTAINM­ENT -

Dear Amy: I am a first­time mother-in-law.

We are a close fam­ily. We have al­ways kept in touch with one an­other on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, even af­ter the kids left home.

My son and new daugh­ter-in-law live about 90 min­utes away. My daugh­ter-in-law seems con­tent to keep con­tact to a min­i­mum. This in­cludes dis­cussing/cel­e­brat­ing important events — both happy and sad.

For ex­am­ple, I am going through a dif­fi­cult sep­a­ra­tion from my hus­band. I have told my daugh­ter-in­law that it would mean a lot to me to hear from her, to know that she is con­cerned about me. When I ex­pressed my feelings, she claimed I was telling her “how” to love me. I told her that a lov­ing fam­ily should be able to ex­press their needs to each other.

I was not al­lowed a mother/son dance at their wed­ding be­cause she lost her fa­ther, and I was told it would be too dif­fi­cult for her to watch us dance.

They are now ex­pect­ing their first child, and my son called to tell me the baby will be born with a heart de­fect and will need surgery at some point.

He asked me to wait a day be­fore call­ing her.

I called her and left a mes­sage. She didn’t re­turn the call or text me. I don’t un­der­stand why she keeps me at arm’s length.

She is not close to her mother. They rarely speak, and she has said this is fine with both of them, but I am not that kind of mom! How can I bring her closer to me?

Dear Heart­bro­ken: First, you need to fig­ure out how to be less heart­bro­ken, and more pa­tient and un­der­stand­ing to­ward a woman who might not know how to be in­ti­mate in the way that you are in­ti­mate.

It is in­ap­pro­pri­ate for you to share de­tails of your sep­a­ra­tion with this new fam­ily mem­ber and to ask for (or ex­pect) her emo­tional sup­port. Pre­sum­ably, the hus­band you are sep­a­rated from is her new fa­ther-in-law. Your emo­tional needs feel like a de­mand; this puts a lot of pres­sure on her.

You should not tell her how to love you. In­stead, you should show her how a pa­tient, com­pas­sion­ate, lov­ing and good-hu­mored mother be­haves.

You should not ex­pect a call back from an anx­ious, preg­nant daugh­ter-in-law with a fright­en­ing di­ag­no­sis who has al­ready ad­mit­ted that she doesn’t al­ways know how to be­have.

Ap­proach her with the goal to build a friendship. Don’t pres­sure her to be a daugh­ter to you.

Your DIL needs to be able to trust that you won’t over­re­act or trans­fig­ure her dra­mas into yours.

This re­quires that you both learn to be­have dif­fer­ently.

Dear Amy: Is there an ac­cept­able way to ask people on the plane or in a wait­ing room if they are con­ta­gious?

I’m not sure what I’d do if they said “yes,” but per­haps they would make more of an ef­fort to cover up their coughs — or use cough drops!

Dear Rather Not: As of this writ­ing, the coro­n­avirus, which orig­i­nated in

China, is spread­ing.

Chil­dren are (quite ap­pro­pri­ately) taught to cough and sneeze into their el­bows. This tech­nique is rec­om­mended by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion ( The CDC also rec­om­mends cough­ing into a tis­sue and then throw­ing the tis­sue away.

If you are in a physi­cian’s wait­ing room, you should as­sume that some­one near you who is cough­ing is con­ta­gious.

This is from the CDC web­site: “Cough eti­quette is es­pe­cially important for in­fec­tion con­trol mea­sures in health care set­tings, such as emergency de­part­ments, doc­tor’s of­fices and clin­ics.”

A po­lite way to re­mind some­one to cover their cough would be to say, “It seems that you are sick. Would you mind cov­er­ing your cough?”

Dear Amy: In a pre­vi­ous col­umn, you rec­om­mended “re­lo­cat­ing” a trio of squir­rels that were tor­ment­ing a home­owner. In many states, it is il­le­gal to re­lo­cate wild an­i­mals. The squir­rels were there be­fore the home­owner. They get first dibs.

Dear Lover: Thank you. These squir­rels were be­ing fed by a neigh­bor. The U.S. De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture strongly dis­cour­ages feed­ing wild an­i­mals.

If these neigh­bors didn’t feed the squir­rels, they might re­lo­cate them­selves.

Copy­right 2020 by Amy Dick­in­son

Dis­trib­uted by Tri­bune Con­tent Agency

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