DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have three wonderful grandchildren who live with our daughter and son-in-law in another state. Our daughter will not allow us to take the children out to lunch, shopping, for ice cream or anywhere without the parents coming with us.

The kids are 7 and 3-year-old twins. When we are in the house playing on the floor with them, our daughter is right there with us. When we go outside to play, she is also there watching.

When I have asked her why she won't let us take the children out, she makes up different excuses, including saying she's overprotective. This makes me and my husband very sad. We are not treated like normal grandparents. What do you suggest we do? -- DISGRUNTLED GRANDPARENT

DEAR DISGRUNTLED: Not knowing your daughter, I can't guess why she appears to be so possessive of the grandchildren. However, while I agree that what's going on isn't "normal," you might be less unhappy if you focus on being grateful that you are able to interact with your grandchildren. It is beneficial for them to spend time with you and know that you love them. Not all grandparents and grandchildren are as fortunate.

P.S. As the kids get older, Mom's need to supervise your visits may subside.

DEAR ABBY: My mother, who lives paycheck to paycheck, has recently become good friends with "Rhonda," who is wealthy due to inherited money. They frequently go out to eat or on other excursions together, and Mom expects her friend to foot the bill. Rhonda, however, usually pays only for herself and expects Mom to pay her own way. It has made Mom angry enough to complain to me.

I told my mom that it's presumptuous of her to expect Rhonda to always pay. While it would be generous of her to pay for Mom too, I think the woman is allowed to do what she wants with her money. Mom says no, I'm wrong, and "those who have more should always be willing to pay for those who have less." What do you think? -- COMPLAINING IN THE SOUTH

DEAR COMPLAINING: I think that your mother's friendship with Rhonda may be nearing its end. I also think that because there is such a discrepancy in the amount of discretionary income your mother and her friend have, your mother should inform Rhonda that as much as she might like to frequently accompany her, financial reality prevents it. Alternatively, they could do something together that doesn't cost as much or is free.

DEAR ABBY: I have a pet peeve -- when people live, say, in Washington state, and they say, "Are you going up to California?" or "I have a friend coming down from California." My brother-in-law does this all the time. Is it a condition or just laziness? If I correct him, he gets angry. I know I'm right, but what would you call his condition? -- PEEVED IN WASHINGTON

DEAR PEEVED: I would call his condition "habit." And I would call YOUR condition a need to nitpick. Although you may be right in this case, if you want a pleasant relationship with your brother-in-law, resist the temptation. Everyone has flaws. His is a minor one.

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