DEAR ABBY: How do I politely tell my mother-in-law to stop doing my laundry? It all started when I was on bed rest due to my pregnancy. I didn’t mind her doing an occasional load to help us out. But now she does it anytime she’s over to watch the kids.

I’m very picky about how I do my laundry, and this is the main reason I don’t want her doing it. Also, I’d prefer she spend time playing with the kids than with the laundry! She also puts things away in the wrong places. She does it with my dishes, too. Once I told her not to worry about my laundry because I wasn’t done sorting it. She took it upon herself to do it anyway.

She’s very strong-willed. My husband and I have had problems with her not respecting our parenting, too. She often takes things the wrong way. What’s the best way for us to tell her that her help is not needed? – DIRTY FAMILY LAUNDRY

Short of locking your laundry hamper to dissuade your mother-in-law, you should make out a list of tasks you WOULD like her to perform when she comes over. If you take the time to show her how you would like them done, it could be a positive, beneficial family time for all of you and prevent misunderstandings.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I disagree on discipline when other children come over to play with our 4-year-old daughter. I believe we have the right to tell them “no” in our own house, and she says we should wait and tell the parents.

A recent example: A friend came over and got bored playing with our daughter, so he went to her room and dumped all of her toys on the floor. Still bored, he went to the living room and proceeded to dump a 300-piece container of Legos all over the floor. I told him he should not do that and should pick up the pieces and then take them out one at a time. My wife was horrified at MY behavior! What do you think about this? – PUZZLED IN SAN PABLO, CALIF.

I think you showed great restraint in how you handled the boy. I’m not sure I would have had your patience. As to who should have been spoken to about the child’s behavior – the boy or his mother – both of them should have been told that in your house, children are expected to act responsibly. Period.

P.S. So who picked up the Legos?

DEAR ABBY: My best friend and I are having a big mutual birthday party April 1. It’s going to be a big bash with lots of people, lots of drinking and, of course, the possibility that others may bring drugs.

We plan on inviting all our friends. However, we have a few friends who no longer live that kind of lifestyle.

Do we still invite our sober friends to this gathering? We love them and want them to be there because they’re our friends, but we also don’t want to lead them into temptation or dangle what they can’t have in front of their faces. What do you think? – FRIEND IN NEED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR FRIEND IN NEED: By all means invite your abstinent friends. They have made their choice to forgo the “higher spirits,” so to include them will not seduce them from their sobriety. If you are going to exclude prospective guests, make it those you think will bring illegal drugs to your party – or you could wind up “entertaining” more guests than you’re planning for. Like the police.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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