Visiting mom's perfume puts family on-edge

Posted: July 02, 2013

DEAR ABBY: My problem is my mother-in-law and her abundant use of perfume. The last time she visited, it was so bad we had to open our windows to air out the rooms. (This was in January in Minnesota.)

My husband addressed the problem with her when I was pregnant, but now that the baby is here, she's back to her old habits.

We are all sensitive to perfumes and get headaches when exposed to it. When she visits, we can't get away from the smell. What's the proper etiquette here?

- The Nose Knows

DEAR NOSE: I receive complaints about perfumes almost daily. Perfume "in abundance" can cause serious allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to it. Your mother-in-law should be reminded again that her perfume is causing headaches and asked to please not use it around you. Depending upon how old she is and her sense of smell, she may not realize she is using as much as she is.

DEAR ABBY: I have a son, "Billy," who will be 9 soon. He was conceived through rape by a man who was physically, emotionally and sexually abusive, as well as controlling and manipulative. He threatened to kill me and Billy, but I eventually got free. I have a criminal no-contact order on him, and he has no legal rights to Billy.

I have raised my son without any knowledge of his father. I feel it would be cruel to tell him how he came into the world. My mother disagrees. She thinks it will backfire if and when Billy finds out.

Am I doing the right thing?

- Living in the Present

DEAR LIVING: I'm surprised your son hasn't already asked about his father, because surely he must have questions. When Billy asks, he should be told some of the truth in an age-appropriate way. He does not need to know about the rape, but he should know that his father was violent, so for your safety and his, the courts decided Billy's father should not be in contact with him.

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