Dear Abby: Daughter-in-law is supposed to be visiting with us, but texts others instead

Her husband’s parents are taken aback by her disinterest in the conversation at hand.

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DEAR ABBY: Our son and his wife were visiting with us in our living room. While we were talking, his wife picked up her cellphone and several times initiated texts during their brief visit. My spouse and I think it was rude, but we haven’t said anything to them. Should we? We would prefer that everybody be fully present during the short time we’re together.

During a prior visit at our house, I asked her a question. As she was about to answer me, her cellphone buzzed. She got up, made a phone call and left the room for a while. Her call wasn’t an emergency; it was just to chat. We thought that was rude, too.

What, if anything, should we say or do? She makes frequent texts and phone calls when we visit them. Are the rules different at their house? — PERPLEXED DAD IN TEXAS

DEAR DAD: Your daughter-in-law’s behavior was rude and disrespectful. In your house, you should establish the rules. Consider making one of them leaving cellphones in a basket at your front door. (In your son and DIL’s home, they can make the rules.) You should have spoken up about how she made you feel the first time it happened, because the unspoken message she conveyed to you was that she wasn’t interested in interacting with you.

DEAR ABBY: I’m hoping you can help with an ongoing issue I’m having with my sister-in-law. She has verbally assaulted me four times, each time acting like she doesn’t remember what she said or apologizing — only to do it again. When these assaults happen, she’s intoxicated and high (I suspect she has an addiction problem).

I have never been anything but kind to her, her husband and her children, and I never fight back. These attacks happen mostly via phone or text, after which I hang up or block her. Once, it happened in person, and I just walked away. I have done this so it doesn’t cause even more problems, but I have reached my limit.

What do I do next time I see her at a mutual get-together? I already told my husband I will no longer attend events at her home. — HATES ALL THE DRAMA

DEAR HATES: Have you or your husband approached your sister-in-law’s husband about her erratic behavior and your concern about her substance abuse? I think you should. However, if you can’t bring yourself to do that, treat her as you would any other rude acquaintance you would prefer to avoid. When you see her at mutual get-togethers, stay on the other side of the room and do not engage with her.

DEAR READERS: Happy Father’s Day to fathers everywhere — birth fathers, stepfathers, adoptive and foster fathers, grandfathers, and all of you caring men who mentor children and fill the role of absent dads.

P.S. Also, a big shoutout to dual-role moms. I applaud you all — today and every day. — 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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) — to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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