DEAR ABBY: I recently married “Matt,” the man of my dreams. We want to have children someday. Although I love Matt, I do not love the other men in his family – specifically his father and his brothers. These people swear and make racist comments and jokes in front of their children. Matt has spoken to them about it in front of me, but it hasn’t stopped them or altered the way they act.

I’m an adult. I understand that these people haven’t had the same educational opportunities and positive parental guidance that I was fortunate enough to have, but I worry about the influence they may have on our children. I don’t want to ruin my husband’s relationship with his family, but if they won’t cut out the comments, I don’t see how I can allow them to be a part of our children’s lives. Please help. – DISTRESSED NEW WIFE IN VERMONT

DEAR NEW WIFE: I don’t know how tied into this family your husband is, but it may not be possible to totally separate your children from their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – unless you plan to move across the country. Obviously, you married the “pick of the litter.”

Please keep in mind that every family has its own standards of what is acceptable and what isn’t, and yours will be no exception. You will educate your children to a higher level, and reinforce the qualities you and your husband feel are important not only by modeling good behavior for them and praising them when they emulate it, but also by pointing out what is unacceptable and telling them why. It’s a more effective way to teach children their values rather than isolating them.

DEAR ABBY: A dear friend, “Claudia,” is flying across the state to stay with me and my fiance for a long weekend. She asked if she could borrow my vehicle to visit a couple of her relatives, and I agreed. However, I have since learned that Claudia plans to visit more relatives during that weekend than the two she mentioned. I am now hesitant about loaning her my car.

The relatives she plans to visit don’t live close by. They live an hour away from us. Claudia has offered to pay for the gas, but it’s the wear and tear on my car that worries me. It’s an older model.

Would it be unreasonable for me to tell her that she needs to rent a vehicle if she plans on visiting so many relatives so far away? Also, am I wrong in thinking that if you say you are coming to visit a friend, you should spend the majority of your time with her, and not running around visiting everyone else? – HESITANT HOSTESS IN IDAHO

DEAR HESITANT HOSTESS: No, you’re not wrong. Aside from the wear and tear on your car, what you’re really objecting to is being used as a jumping-off place while Claudia traipses around. By all means tell her to rent a vehicle during her visit. Before agreeing to loan your car, you should have checked your insurance policy. It’s possible that if some kind of mishap occurred while she was at the wheel, you would not be covered.

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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