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Dear Abby 2/20
Effort to mend broken family ties meets stiff resistance
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    DEAR ABBY: My husband's sister, "Mia," is a lesbian who came out to her family 10 years ago. Her parents disowned her. We were just out of high school, and for years we had no idea why. We were not allowed to invite Mia to our wedding or to have any contact with her.
    Several years later, she began trying to repair their relationship, despite the fact that she's forbidden to talk about her life or bring her partner anywhere near them. This was when we learned what had happened, and we were appalled at how Mia had been treated.
    When she comes to town for holidays, she stays with us. Because of this, my in-laws treat us like "sinners" just as they do her, and we're caught in the middle.
    We have tried explaining to these family members that they are entitled to their position and we're entitled to ours; that Mia is family and deserves respect and kindness. They call us liberal freaks with no moral values and say we should stand up to her and not let her "manipulate" us.     My husband and I are tired of the drama we get at holiday time. Not only do they usually pick a fight with Mia while she's here, but they also won't speak to us for two weeks afterward. The last two times she came, Mia has either had to cut her trip short or has been reduced to tears by the harsh words from family members.
    If you wonder why Mia even bothers coming home, it's because she wants to maintain contact with us and she loves her nieces and nephews. How do we handle these people, or do we just give up? -- ODD ONES OUT IN OHIO
    DEAR ODD ONES OUT: Stand your ground. Do not allow yourselves to be bullied or emotionally blackmailed into rejecting your husband's sister. You are neither morally challenged nor "liberal freaks" for trying to help bridge the gap with the family.
    Frankly, your sister-in-law must be extremely resilient to have tolerated the abuse she's getting from these "good" people. They may not approve of her sexual orientation, but she did not choose it — it's who she is. It seems this self-righteous family's "moral values" do not include tolerance.

    DEAR ABBY: I share a room with my stepsisters during visitation at my dad's. Their room doesn't have a lock, and my stepmom, "Muriel," doesn't believe in knocking before coming into their room. My stepsisters are used to it and don't care. However, Muriel is not my mom, and it's embarrassing to be barged in on without warning, especially when I'm undressed.
    Last weekend she walked in after I had just taken a shower and was completely naked. Muriel couldn't understand why I'd have a problem with it, since we're both females and I was already naked in front of my stepsisters.
    I have asked her nicely to please knock when I'm there, but she says, "A mother doesn't have to knock when coming into her own daughters' (or stepdaughter's) room." Muriel said I have a "silly hang-up" and need to get over it. "I wouldn't be doing you any favors," she said, "if I gave in."
    Is my request unreasonable? How should I handle this? -- FEELS LIKE CINDERELLA
    DEAR FEELS LIKE CINDERELLA: It doesn't appear that you and Muriel are particularly close, or even on the same wavelength. She's being heavy-handed in the way she is asserting herself, and you should talk to your father and mother about it.
    Your stepmother is the adult, and she has allowed this to be turned into a power struggle. She's not your mother, and as you are a guest in their home, some common courtesy should be extended.
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