Dear Abby: Maybe mother-in-law shouldn’t babysit our toddler anymore

The last time she cared for her grandchild, she seemed to neglect his diaper, his bottles and more.

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DEAR ABBY: How do you know when a grandparent is no longer capable of babysitting? Recently, my mother-in-law came to visit and, as usual, she babysat our toddler while I ran errands, went to the gym, etc.

When I returned, it was immediately obvious that my son had soiled his diaper, so I changed him. I could tell it had been some time since he had relieved himself. His water bottle and milk were out of his reach because she “didn’t want him to spill it,” so it had been hours since he had a sip of anything. There were smaller issues as well. I spoke with my husband about it, but he downplayed the situation.

Am I overreacting, or is my husband in denial about his mom’s diminishing capabilities? She’s planning another visit with us again soon, and I’m sure she expects solo babysitting time. Is this safe? Should I say something? If so, what? Of course I appreciate free babysitting and a loving grandmother, but not to the detriment of my son. — VERY WORRIED MOM IN COLORADO

DEAR MOM: Ideally, you should have asked your mother-in-law why the diaper hadn’t been changed when you got home and realized it hadn’t been. Your husband may have minimized what happened because he can’t accept that his mother’s mental capacities may be diminishing. Denial is common when a parent is in the beginning stages of dementia because the symptoms can be subtle.

Having concerns about leaving your son alone with her is not “going overboard.” During her next visit, stay close to home and quietly monitor what she is — and isn’t — doing. If she is indeed slipping, she needs to be evaluated by a geriatrician, and may need supervision for herself.

DEAR ABBY: Three weeks after I met my love, he proposed. We were married four months later. We hadn’t discussed finances, but he did know my income was higher than his. (We are both retired and were widowed when we met.)

After nine months of marriage, we got into some financial problems, and instead of sitting down to discuss it with him, I did what I usually do when I get scared: I bolted. I asked him to leave and filed for divorce.

Since then, I have realized that I still love him and want him in the last chapter of my life. I know I hurt him, and I want to make it up to him, but he’s afraid I’ll ask him to leave again. I also love his family and miss them all very much. I would never hurt him again. We have been talking, and he has a girlfriend and doesn’t want to hurt her. Advice? — ANOTHER CHANCE IN FLORIDA

DEAR ANOTHER CHANCE: You blew it. Your former husband has moved on since the divorce, as evidenced by the fact that he has a new lady in his life. Learn from his example and move on with yours, because it doesn’t appear he will be coming back anytime soon — if ever.

DEAR READERS: Today we celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the visionary civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968. So many of his words ring as true today as when they were first spoken: “All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face-to-face with another problem.” (This applies to many aspects of life today.) — LOVE, ABBY

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.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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