Dear Ann: My father-in-law recently decided to run for public office. He is an honorable and decent man, and we get along well. I do not, however, agree with his political views. In fact, we don't even belong to the same political party.
My wife has just informed me that we are scheduled to sit for a family portrait, which will be used on billboards to advertise my father-in-law's campaign. This has put me on the spot because I don't want to be part of the photo session. The implication would be that I am supporting his candidacy, which I am not. In fact, I don't plan to vote for him.
How can I gracefully extricate myself from the photo session without alienating my father-in-law and several members of my wife's family? It has taken me years to build a decent relationship with them, and I don't want to burn my bridges. Kentucky Kin
Dear Kentucky: Your best bet is to be upfront. Tell them you are NOT supporting your father-in-law in the race because of your basic political differences, and to appear in a billboard photo advertising his candidacy would be totally misleading and out of the question. That should settle it.
Dear Ann: You recently printed a letter signed, "Scooter's Dad." In your response, you said, "I hope Scooter is the name of your son and that you do not consider yourself the father of the dog." Of course he considers himself the dog's father. All pet owners do.
I realize people who do not have pets sometimes think pet owners are a bit nutty, but please be tolerant of us. My furry "kids" take as much love and discipline as the two-legged kind. However, they don't cost nearly as much. They also don't smoke pot, get drunk or lie to us about where they've been. When I was laid up in bed with a back injury last year, my cocker spaniel stayed by my side the entire two months, providing me with comfort and love. I cannot imagine a child being as devoted and selfless. Our pets are our children. Sometimes the pampering may seem excessive, but it is harmless. Please give us your blessing. Taffy's Mom in Texas
Dear Texas: You don't need my blessing. All I can say is, any pet who finds itself living in your house is very lucky. I once had a friend who fed her cat Beluga caviar. I thought this was a bit over the top, but when she said, "This cat gives me more pleasure than anybody I know," I understood.
Dear Ann: I am a 32-year-old woman who is getting married for the second time in a few months. When I married the first time, my ex-husband and I paid for everything. This time, I think my folks should help out. Isn't that what parents are supposed to do?
My folks are not rich, but they are comfortable, and could afford to give us a hand with the expenses. They helped pay for my younger sister's wedding a few years ago, and it was downright elaborate. I am reluctant to come right out and ask for money, but they haven't offered any, and I think they should. What do you say, Ann? Danville, Ill.
Dear Danville: Sorry, you have things turned around. Parents usually pay for the first wedding. You should have let them. To expect them to pay for your second wedding is out of line. Deep-six the request.