Mom Insists 50-Year-Old Son Wear Late Husband's Clothes

Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for 30 years and will be visiting my mother-in-law again soon. Even though he is 50, she is obsessed with dressing him. As soon as we arrive, she searches through our luggage and announces that his clothes are not "good enough." Then she wants to put her son in her dead husband's clothes. She always threatens that she will have a fit if he won't wear the clothes she chooses. What should I do? -- BAGGAGE CHECK IN MONTANA

DEAR BAGGAGE CHECK: Your mother-in-law may still be in deep mourning for her husband. If your husband bears a strong resemblance to his father, it's possible that seeing him in those clothes in some way brings her husband back to her.

Frankly, her behavior is quite bizarre -- including the threatened tantrum if she doesn't get her way. (Could she be losing it?) When the subject comes up again, as it will when you arrive, you and your husband should stand your ground and let her throw her fit. It might be the beginning of some healing.


DEAR ABBY: I have a question regarding what to do when someone pays you a compliment. I was always taught that a compliment should be answered with a polite "thank you." So when my husband compliments me on a nice meal, I say, "Thank you."

He believes that you are not being humble enough when you say thank you, since it is recognizing that you did a good job. He thinks you should say, "I'm glad you like it," instead of thank you. What is the correct response? -- GRAMMATICALLY PERPLEXED

DEAR PERPLEXED: You are not a robot, and your husband should not attempt to program your responses by "correcting" you. Saying thank you for a compliment is the appropriate response when one is offered. When paid a compliment, I see no reason to feign humility by saying anything that lessens it, especially if it is deserved.


DEAR ABBY: About a year ago my sisters, a daughter and several nieces and nephews decided to get the word "family," in my mother's handwriting, tattooed on their bodies to memorialize her. I didn't do it because Mom didn't like tattoos and would not have approved of anyone getting one for any reason. I do a number of other things in her memory.

Should I feel guilty for not joining them in their endeavor to remember Mom, or is it OK to remember her in a way she would approve of? -- NO TATS FOR ME

DEAR NO TATS: The process of mourning is an individual one. There is no requirement that families do it "en masse." If you prefer to memorialize your mother in your own way, then do it and don't feel guilty about it. However, because your relatives chose to do something else in the spirit of family harmony -- which your mother would not approve of -- be careful not to criticize the path they took.


DEAR ABBY: My son's fourth-grade teacher can't spell. I have noticed at least a half-dozen errors not only in the handwritten notes she sends home, but also in assignment work! How should I handle this? -- ANONYMOUS IN PITTSBURGH

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Save the notes and assignment work with the misspellings and share them with the school principal. And if the problem continues, go to the school board about the problem teacher.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


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