Father-in-law's hoarding may signal problem

Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for 16 years. His father, who is in his 90s, lives with us. This is admirable on my husband's part, and I generally don't mind.

Unfortunately, there are times when my father-in-law does things that I find inappropriate. When we aren't home, he goes into my drawers and closets and takes things, including clothing.

No one in the family wants to confront him and many times my husband replaces the missing items.

My father-in-law's age is not an acceptable excuse for this behavior. I don't think my husband realizes that these violations of my privacy give me the creeps.

What should we do?

OUT OF EXCUSES

Amy says: Your father-in-law's age is an acceptable excuse for this behavior. He may have some age-related issues that compel him to wander and "search" for or hoard things. His doctor should be informed.

You don't have to confront your father-in-law about this violation, but you and your husband should start by simply asking him to stop.

This may not affect his behavior (he may not be able to control it), in which case you should keep your private papers locked away. Simple childproof latches on your drawers and closet doors might deter him. Perhaps you should lock your bedroom door when you're out.

You two should also reassess whether your father-in-law is safe at home by himself. It might be time to hire a part-time caregiver.

Go nude or not?

Dear Amy: My husband and I have vacationed with another family for the past 20 years. Now that all our kids are grown, we decided for the first time to take a "couples-only" vacation.

Our friends went to a nearby lake where nude bathing is permitted, and they enjoyed it. Now they want to go to a nude resort.

My husband and I frequently sleep in the nude, and before kids we used to go skinny-dipping at a secluded pond.

My husband is willing to try this nude resort, but as much as I like being naked in private, I just can't imagine being comfortable naked in front of strangers. Our friends say we'll feel totally comfortable au naturel once we are surrounded by other naked people.

We are both 50, and our bodies are not nubile.

We are looking forward to this joint vacation. I would hate giving it up, and I also hate being the only person objecting to it.

Will I lose my inhibition, as they say, or will I likely be miserable?

SHY NUDE

Amy says: My only experience visiting a nude beach was in Europe, where I got used to the nudity very quickly (I stayed fully clothed).

Once I was used to looking at naked strangers, I realized that I didn't enjoy it very much.

Suffice it to say that most of us have bodies that are best viewed through more than just a layer of sunscreen. For people who enjoy being publicly nude, however, nudity is not about looking at beautiful bodies, but about the freedom of being without clothes. You never know -- you could be one of those people.

You can find out for yourself by visiting your nearby nude lake for a test run before committing to this.

More on grand titles

Dear Amy: Responding to "Over Grannied," whose daughter wanted her children to call all elders Grandma and Grandpa -- imagine if she had a large, blended family?

My husband's parents divorced when he was very young. Before our son was born, we discussed what names to use. We settled upon the traditional Grandma and Grandpa for my Asian parents, Grammie and Granddad for the stepmother and father, and Tutu and Grampie for his mother and stepfather.

Tutu is the Hawaiian word for grandmother (my mother-in-law is Hawaiian).

On the other hand, everyone else not in their generation is Aunty or Uncle (followed by first name). This comes from the Hawaiian and Japanese cultures, which bestow honor to older people by not referring to them solely by their first name and adding the affectionate terms to show love and caring.

BLENDED

Amy says: I especially love "Tutu" and may ask to be called that myself.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Av., Chicago, IL 60611.

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