DEAR ABBY: My parents live a simple life, enjoying their days as retirees. They invite me to join them for special occasions at their house (my childhood home) and although the house is organized and tidy, I become ill when I spend more than a few hours under their roof.
Their cleaning practices are questionable. They simply rinse plates and utensils after use, as opposed to using the dishwasher. Within an hour of arriving, the dust makes my allergies and asthma flare up. They prefer to launder clothes, sheets, blankets, etc. only occasionally out of concern about "wasting water" and money. Their dog and cat have urinated throughout the house, and my parents claim to not be able to smell it.
I don't want to hurt their feelings by declining their invitations, but I can't stand to get sick every time I walk through their door. Help! — SNEEZING IN THE SUBURBS
DEAR SNEEZING: You're right, you can't. That's why it's time to speak up and tell your parents your allergies flare up when you visit their house. If you're expected to spend the night there, tell them that from now on you'll sleep at a hotel/motel nearby. And before using them, either wash their eating utensils or take your parents out for meals, which will make it easier on all of you.
DEAR ABBY: My ex-wife took my 8-year-old son to a gay pride parade last week. She snapped a picture of him holding a rainbow flag and posted it to social media.
I don't feel comfortable with my son attending gay pride parades. I think he's too young to be exposed to this kind of thing. I'm not concerned about him being gay; that's not the issue. Some attendees of these parades can be sexually provocative.
I want my son to be a kid and have a happy childhood. What's a good way to talk to his mother about this? — HAPPY CHILDHOOD IN THE EAST
DEAR HAPPY: Children exposed to adult activities should be prepared beforehand. Of course, much depends on the maturity level of the child.
The police usually keep a close watch on these gatherings to ensure public safety. Children younger than 8 have attended these parades with their parents or other loved ones with no unpleasant aftereffects. If anything obscene had happened at the event your ex-wife took the boy to, you would have heard about it. Feeling as you do, you should absolutely raise this subject with your ex — if only so she can reassure you.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I will soon celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary. It bothers me increasingly that he doesn't wear a wedding ring. He says a ring bothers him when he is working, but he has been retired for most of our marriage. He wears a chain with two pendants as well as a large gold bracelet every day.
When I bring it up, he says he tells everyone he meets that he's married or mentions me in conversation. I'm not worried about him being unfaithful. I just like the way a ring looks and makes me feel. Advice? — SYMBOLIC IN FLORIDA
DEAR SYMBOLIC: You have been married — I presume happily — for 32 years. Not every man is comfortable wearing a ring. (My husband happens to be one of them.) My advice is to stop obsessing, let it go and let him be himself.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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