DEAR ABBY: My husband and I and our children moved across the country away from our families three years ago. My 9-year-old daughter is extremely close to my mom and sister. Mom wants to take a road trip and spend a week with us. We are all excited, since we haven't seen them in a year. However, she wants to bring along my grandma and my younger cousin, who is 12.
My grandma has partial custody of my cousin. The girl had a rough upbringing, and I don't want her to come. She throws terrible temper tantrums, demands to be the center of attention and, when it doesn't happen, starts acting up. If that doesn't work, she will try to kiss people or make "jokes" about sex. I don't trust her around my daughters.
Mom hates controversy and turns a blind eye to the behavior. How can I get across that we want Mom and Grandma to come but to leave my cousin at home? -- PROCEEDING WITH CAUTION
DEAR PROCEEDING: Say it in plain English as you have to me. You have a right to protect your daughters from what you perceive to be a bad influence.
You mentioned your grandmother shares custody of this girl. Perhaps Grandma can leave her with that person for a week. However, once you have drawn the line, be prepared for the possibility that your mother may cancel the trip.
DEAR ABBY: I am 53 and have been divorced for more than 10 years. While we were going through the divorce, my ex and I went to counseling. Unfortunately, it couldn't save our marriage. However, I learned a lot during those sessions about how to be a better partner because I recognized the mistakes I had made during my marriage.
I am currently dating a woman my age. When we disagree, I try my best to use what I learned. While I'm not perfect, I'm glad I have that foundation. The problem is, my girlfriend employs a lot of the bad behaviors from which I evolved. I see it clearly, but you can't teach someone during an argument. How do we get on the same page? We love each other, so it would be nice to fine-tune our adversity to make it healthy and productive. -- WANTING BETTER IN THE EAST
DEAR WANTING: Communication is all-important in relationships, as is the ability to fight fair when disagreements arise. Wait until your lady friend is calm, then suggest the two of you seek couples counseling together. It will not only help you to make your relationship "healthier and more productive," it will also help the two of you grow closer by addressing any differences that might prevent it from developing further.
DEAR ABBY: One of my friends is a drama queen. Whenever things don't go the way she wants, she freaks out and makes a big deal out of everything. It makes the times we spend together hard, because my other friends and I are scared we'll start another fight with her. What can I do to make her stop making a big deal out of everything? -- NO MORE DRAMA QUEEN
DEAR NO MORE: Your friend may be high strung, or she may simply create drama in order to get attention. Understand that you can't "make" her stop doing it, but if you and your friends ignore her antics, she may tone it down when she realizes they aren't bringing the reaction she's looking for. If that doesn't work, stop including her as often.