Dear Abby: My mother-in-law constantly drops in without calling and I’m sick of it

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Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: How do I get my mother-in-law to stop dropping by without calling first? My husband and I have been married for 26 years. Both of us have asked her nicely over the years to PLEASE call to make sure it’s a good time, rather than just drop by unannounced. She, however, blatantly ignores our wishes and continues to do it. Even when she discovers it’s a bad time, she blankly looks at us and has this “drop everything, I’m here” attitude as she comes strolling in.

Once, when I had just finished preparing a lovely dinner I had worked hard on for a couple of hours, as we were sitting down to eat, she rang our doorbell. We had plenty of food and invited her to stay. Instead of joining us or going home, she went out our back door and sat on our patio -- in our view. We went out and again invited her to join us, but she refused to come in or take the hint and leave. So we had to see her the whole time we were eating my lovely dinner.

We have told her she always drops by at the WORST time. What I don’t understand is why she gets her jollies doing it. It could be a nicer situation if we had an agreed-upon time and we could all have a nice visit. Normally, I have a great relationship with her, and talk with her frequently on the phone. Two weeks before an event I was working on, I told her the following week I was going to be crazy busy working on it. She told me to not bother calling her the following week so I could concentrate on that project. But during that busy week, she dropped in on us again!

I don’t think she respects me at all. My husband sent her a firm email telling her not to do this again. How do we get through to her? -- MAD IN MISSOURI

DEAR MAD: Your mother-in-law continues to do this because you allow her to get away with it. The next time she drops in unannounced, tell her it isn’t convenient and DON’T LET HER IN. If she “strolls” in anyway, you AND your husband should tell her she is interrupting what you are doing, ask her to please call before coming over and then show her out. She isn’t going to like it, but if you are consistent, your problem will be solved.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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