Daughter-in-law a suspected thief

My son and daughter-in-law are both in their 30s. They have college degrees and good jobs. However, every time they come to visit, I discover things are missing. I’m not imagining it. This happened even when they were dating.

Dear Annie: My son and daughter-in-law are both in their 30s.

They have college degrees and good jobs. However, every time they come to visit, I discover things are missing. I’m not imagining it. This happened even when they were dating.

A few years ago, my son told me he’d found some items that he knew belonged to us and didn’t think I had given them to his wife.

I said I would like them back, but nothing was ever returned.

So far, my daughter-in-law hasn’t taken anything expensive (that I know of), and I haven’t made a big deal about it.

They now have a child, and I certainly don’t want my grandson being taught that it’s OK to steal. How do I confront her without causing a rift in the family? Or should I confront her at all? — Arizona Mother-in-Law

Dear Arizona: Kleptomania is an impulse-control issue and may be associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Counselling and medication may be effective, but your daughter-in-law must be willing to admit she needs help. Talk to your son and explain to him how important it is that his wife work on this before it affects their child. He isn’t doing her any favors by ignoring the problem.

Dear Annie: My wife’s great-niece is getting married shortly. She is having a bridal shower the same week as the wedding.

The bride and groom have been living together for a while and are already set up as far as household items. What is the proper protocol for gifts in this situation? Is my wife required to give a gift for both events, or is one present proper? And if one, at which occasion should it be given? — In a Quandary

Dear Quandary: Regardless of when the events take place, the custom of giving both a shower gift and a wedding gift is the same. Since the two are so close together, if your wife wishes to give one larger gift to cover both occasions, she may do so. If she attends the shower, however, she should bring an inexpensive token gift. The wedding present should be sent to their home.

Dear Annie: I was profoundly disturbed by your answer to “Nightmare in Maine,” whose 17-year-old friend was raped at the hands of her brother’s best friend after she got drunk at a party. She didn’t want to report it. Although you suggested that she urge the victim to contact a rape/abuse hotline, you also said not to push her too hard to call the police, as it will only add stress to what is obviously a difficult situation. Wrong!

You would feel differently if your own daughter were the rapist’s next victim, as happened in my community. You might wonder whether that could have been prevented had the original victim come forward to report this heinous crime and identify the rapist.

The law and common decency demand that crimes such as rape be reported to protect the community as a whole. Rape victims will suffer whether they report the crime or not, but in the long run, they may suffer much more guilt if they do not, especially if the rapist strikes again.

My daughter and I strongly believe a rape victim has responsibilities to other potential targets. Women who have been raped must stop seeing themselves as victims and start seeing themselves as survivors whose mission is to heal themselves and protect other women with their testimony. — M.

Dear M.: We contacted RAINN (rainn.org) and were told that although many victims say reporting helped their recovery and allowed them to regain a feeling of control, it is a very personal decision. RAINN encourages reporting, but if rape survivors decide not to, for whatever reason, they shouldn’t feel bad about their choice. The National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) (1-800-656-4673) can help victims through the reporting process and, in some areas, will send an advocate to help the victim at the hospital or police station.

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