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STORY OF DAUGHTER'S MOVE BACK HOME IS ALTERED IN THE TELLING

DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law quit her job and moved into my in-laws' basement six years ago. I think there may have been an emotional breakdown having to do with her work. I also think it upsets my mother-in-law to have her adult daughter living this life. Mom isn't willing to ask her to move out or even discuss the situation.

This was fine until my sister-in-law told my 10-year-old daughter that she lives with her parents because "they need her to take care of them." Nothing could be further from the truth! My in-laws are fine on their own.

My concern is that this is sending a bad message to my daughter, and she will think she will need to take care of her father and me in 30 years. I have told my daughter that kids do not need to move back in with their parents -- even if they need help.

My question is, should I tell my mother-in-law about this or just drop it? -- TAKEN ABACK IN NEVADA

DEAR TAKEN ABACK: Your sister-in-law may have justified her living with her parents in order to save face after having been asked about why she was living in their basement. Because you have dealt with this with your daughter and the subject is a sensitive one with your mother-in-law, my advice is to let it go.


DEAR ABBY: Can you please help me understand the rule of etiquette when borrowing a wedding dress? The owner was fully aware that the bride intended to alter it. It was obvious that it would need to be made several sizes smaller and shortened. Also, the bride stated clearly that she intended to lower the neckline and remove the sleeves. Everyone seemed happy the gown was being used again after 25 years of being in a box.

After the wedding, the dress was professionally cleaned, boxed and returned to the owner. She is now livid and contends that the dress should have been returned in its original state -- just like it was loaned.

I'd appreciate your help settling this family dispute. How should this work? -- BORROWING TROUBLE IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR BORROWING TROUBLE: It is a fact of life that when cloth is excised so a garment can be made "several sizes smaller," it cannot be put back in its original condition. If that was the expectation of the owner, it was unrealistic. The bride did the right thing by having the wedding gown professionally cleaned and boxed, and it shouldn't be necessary for her to make any apologies.


DEAR ABBY: A few years ago, my sister-in-law gave me a beautiful watch for Christmas. It became my favorite accessory for any dressy occasion. However, a year ago her brother and I divorced. I still have the watch and would love to wear it, but I'm not sure if it would be appropriate or if I should give it away. Thanks for your input. -- TORN IN DECATUR, ILL.

DEAR TORN: The watch was given to you with affection, and even if you wear it in your ex-husband's presence, the chances are small that he would realize who it was from. Because you like it, wear it and enjoy it. There is nothing inappropriate about doing so.


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.


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 $7 (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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