Dear Abby: Son’s visits clutter our house with belongings left behind

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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are seniors who look forward to visits from our adult children. The problem is our oldest son. He visits every few months and leaves belongings behind.

He uses our guest room, where he has claimed much of the closet, several dresser drawers, the guest bathroom vanity and even part of our shed. He says he needs to leave things because it’s too expensive to check bags when he flies into town.

We would like our guests to have space when they come to visit, and we are also trying to downsize and declutter. We have told him this repeatedly. We even resorted to mailing him back boxes of clothing, toiletries and other excessive amounts of his things to his home, hoping he would get the message.

This is making my husband upset every time our son visits, and creating stress in our marriage as well. Please, we need your help. — SON HAS BAGGAGE IN FLORIDA

DEAR SON HAS BAGGAGE: Offer your son a couple of alternatives. The first would be to clear the counter in the guest bathroom and put his toiletries into a dopp kit kept out of sight. He should leave no more than one drawer full of his underwear, socks, etc. in the bureau and three changes of clothes in the closet. Any other items he will need can be brought in a backpack that can be stowed (at no cost) under his seat during the flight.

If he can’t do that, then he should follow your example — mail his things to you, and mail them back to his home when he leaves.

DEAR ABBY: I was diagnosed with celiac disease 13 years ago and have followed a strict diet since. In the past, I didn’t tell my co-workers because food wasn’t part of the job. However, I am now in a small department and we travel, so I have disclosed it.

My boss constantly harasses me for not eating any of the junk food he brings in (or why I don’t eat all of the food when we eat out). I decline politely, but he keeps coming at me insisting that “it’s OK to eat” and says I should just eat it because it won’t make me sick.

I have pulled him aside a couple of times to explain celiac disease and provided him with good articles about it, hoping that reading them would have a bigger impact than my explaining. He has made some comments about how his wife follows “fad diets,” and he thinks they are all crazy. I have explained how a restricted diet is the only treatment for celiac disease, but he is unrelenting in his harassment.

I don’t know what my next step should be. I love my job, but this is getting in the way. — UNSURE IN WYOMING

DEAR UNSURE: Your boss’ behavior is beyond inappropriate. What he is doing could be considered bullying. The kind of stress your boss is creating makes people sick. If the harassment doesn’t stop, talk to HR about his creating a hostile work environment.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

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