Q: Over the years I have come to realize that my father-in-law is condescending toward women. He expects his wife will do all the cooking, cleaning and housework despite the fact that she has a demanding full-time job and he doesn’t work outside the home.
When we go to dinner over there, it is expected that the women will clean up and do the dishes while the men sit and talk at the table. I have never seen him lift a finger to help, and he frequently makes demeaning comments about his wife’s cooking, among other things. He considers himself an expert on everything and frequently interrupts people (mostly women) to prove he “knows better.” His behavior is rude, and I am offended by it.
I am pregnant with my first child, a daughter, and I’m concerned about her growing up in this atmosphere. I don’t want her raised thinking that men know better than women and that women are supposed to wait on men. My husband doesn’t want to confront his father over this. How do we handle the situation? — First-Class Citizen in Florida
A: It appears your husband is as cowed by his father as your mother-in-law is or this wouldn’t be happening. He could have put a stop to it years ago by simply getting up from the table and helping you and his mom clear the dishes while Dad kept himself company.
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If you prefer your little girl not grow up in an atmosphere like this, see less of your in-laws. Be sure to tell your MIL why. And if you “must” subject your daughter to her grandfather’s presence, point out to her that “Gramps” acts this way because his thinking is outdated. Explain that it is his attempt to make himself feel important, even if he isn’t.
Q: While waiting for my chemotherapy to finish along with two other patients (all three of us have little time left), one of them made a comment about his wife. She was sitting next to him as a visitor, continuously using her cellphone. He said, “She always plays games or talks on her phone while I just sit here!” He looked so sad.
I understand, because my husband does the same thing and has for years. Yesterday morning my husband came out of the bedroom and said, “How are you this morning?” I turned around and asked, “Are you talking to me?” It took a moment for me to realize he was actually addressing me and not someone on the other end of the phone. How sad! — Near the End
A: I agree that it’s sad. Your spouses will have the rest of their lives to regret the meaningful conversations they missed having, and the important things that were left unsaid because they were too busy hiding from reality on their cellphones.
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Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.