Annie's Mailbox: I don't want to call my mother-in-law 'Mom,' no matter how great she is - Omaha.com
Published Monday, September 2, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 10:08 am
Annie's Mailbox: I don't want to call my mother-in-law 'Mom,' no matter how great she is

Dear Annie: My husband has a wonderful mother, and I am happy that such a terrific woman raised him.

The problem is, she wants me to call her “Mom.”

I love her dearly, but I am not comfortable with this.

She introduces me as her daughter and signs all of her emails and texts, “Love, Mom.”

Any advice on how to handle this situation?

Uncomfortable Daughter-in-Law

Dear Uncomfortable: It is never easy to start calling someone by a more familiar name.

Mom obviously wants to be closer to you.

You have three choices: You force yourself to call her “Mom,” knowing that eventually it will become easier and natural; you simply tell her that you think she is terrific, but you would prefer to call her by her first name because you consider her a good friend; you wait until you have children and then call her “Grandma.”

Dear Annie: I found your response to “Nebraska” surprising.

She said her friends are not attracted to African-Americans, and you agreed that this is bigoted.

I remember being with friends and checking out members of the opposite sex when I was much younger.

My friend might say she thought the blue-eyed blond was a real cutie, and I might say I preferred men with brown hair and brown eyes.

Did that make us bigoted? Did that mean one of us had a prejudice against Swedes and the other against Italians? Attraction is one thing. Willingness to get to know someone based on race or other physical appearance is something else altogether, and there I might agree with your response.

All these years later, I’m still married to the brown-eyed man.

Hat Creek, Calif.

Dear Hat Creek: Many readers compared this to not being attracted to redheads. But it’s not the same.

Selecting an entire group of human beings based on their ancestral heritage is like saying you aren’t attracted to anyone whose great-grandmother was a redhead.

You actually provided an excellent example of our point: You didn’t say Swedes or Italians as a group. You said blue-eyed blonds and brown-eyed brunettes. Those preferences occur within many groups, including dark-eyed, brunette Swedes and blond, blue-eyed Italians, which are plentiful.

It’s not always easy to recognize bigotry in ourselves, and in most cases, it is not intentional. But aside from the obvious fact that people should be judged on an individual basis, “Nebraska’s” friends didn’t say they have a problem with a specific feature — and African-Americans have a range of features. They also did not say they aren’t attracted to a specific skin tone. They said “African-Americans,” making them all the same in looks and personality.

You don’t have to be attracted to everybody. But when one pronounces an entire group of people to be unappealing based solely on their racial heritage, what, exactly, would you call that?

Dear Annie: I was moved to write after reading the letter from “California,” the man who felt so guilty about a brief extramarital affair he had 40 years ago that he wanted to confess it to his children.

My parents divorced in 1968, when I was 13. I would respect my father more if he would acknowledge that his affairs were a significant reason for the divorce. Our mother told us, but didn’t use it as part of the divorce proceedings. I think she thought it was too embarrassing. Dad married his girlfriend six months later.

Last summer, my 87-year-old father had the nerve to tell me that my mother was the one who wanted the divorce and he didn’t know why. While you may think it would do more harm than good, I’d rather my father tell us than keep lying.

S.

Dear S.: Your father had a long-term affair that resulted in a divorce. It is not the same as a brief indiscretion that was deeply regretted. And while Dad should not lie or blame your mother, it’s possible that, at the age of 87, he no longer clearly remembers the reason behind the divorce.

Annie’s Snippet for Labor Day:

“Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” — Booker T. Washington

Contact the writer:

anniesmailbox@comcast.net

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