Ask Alma


By Alma Gill

NNPA Columnist


My Mother-in-Law Shows Favoritism


Dear Alma,

I have a problem with my mother-in-law. She does not treat my husband and his brother the same. My husband and I have two grown children – a son and a daughter. Both are living on their own; neither is married; and my son lives in another state. My husband has one brother. He’s gay and doesn’t have any children. I don’t think he ever will. Every Christmas my mother-in-law gives my husband and me $250 each. She gives our adult children $250 each, and she gives my brother-in-law $1,000. We don’t think that’s fair. She’s giving us less money because we are a family. I have a right mind to bring this to her attention. What do you think?




Hold on, Miss Candy Cane,

That’s not your right mind speaking. That’s your wrong mind – so don’t you listen.  You’ve worked yourself into a tizzy because, basically, you want your MIL to give you and your husband more money. No, wait; or maybe you want her to stop giving your adult children money… I’m confused. Either way, it ain’t your money to regulate. You can’t tell a gift giver how to give.  Evidently she’s budgeting $2,000 to spend on her family. Clearly, she’s dividing the amount in half between her two sons. She’s giving one son the full amount, and then she’s dividing the rest by the number of immediate family members of the other. And you have a problem with that?  Tough tinsel!

The fact that your MIL gives money, period, is a generous act in itself. Stop scrutinizing her gift-giving practices. Where’s the gratitude in knowing you’re on her gift list and not her other list. You see what I’m sayin?  Wrap this mess up; you don’t need a bow. What you and your husband need to do is – drop it. Stop looking for ways to compare the brothers, cause that’s really what this is all about. Everybody’s grown now, so get over it. Christmas is a season filled with priceless holiday traditions. What’s more important than making family memories that will last a lifetime? Before you both are uninvited home for the holidays, check your gift-giving guidebook under the chapter “Common Sense.” I’m sure it mentions that your MIL isn’t obligated to give a Christmas gift to any of you – wheather divided and distributed equally or otherwise. That’s her prerogative.




Loose Car


Dear Alma,

I found out that my husband put his brother’s car in his name. This car once belonged to the brother’s ex-girlfriend. She bought it for him to drive when they were together. When they broke up, she wanted it back, but my brother-in-law refused and hid the car for many years. Recently, they found out the ex-girlfriend had died, so now my brother-in-law is riding around in the car again. He has no driver’s license because of tickets and DWI convictions. They got a copy of the ex-girlfriend’s death certificate, and my husband write a letter to the DMV claiming ownership. Now, this car is in my husband’s name and not my brother-in-law’s name. How should I approach my husband regarding this situation?

B.C., Atlanta, Ga.


Hey Now B.C.,

Approach! This is not an approach situation. This is a put your damn foot down, step on his neck, state of affairs. Your husband is a hustler, and so is his brother. They’ve committed a crime. But then again, you know who you’re dealing with, Cowgirl, because this is not your first time at the rodeo with him. Your BIL basically stole his ex-girlfriend’s car. I’ve heard of keeping an engagement ring, but this was jacked! Now (after the rightful owner has died), they submitted false information to the DMV. Do you know that your husband can go to jail? You better distance yourself and tell him you want no part of it – now or ever.

Hold up – wait a minute. I gotta feeling he and his family have had some funky chicken shenanigans going on all along, and maybe you let it slide. Maybe a few of their schemes actually worked to your advantage.  Problem is, when you become a participant, foolishness will always meet you at the fork in the road, which is where you’re standing. Pick a path and stay on it. At this point, you’re simply choosing right from wrong, and I think you’re trying to do what’s right. Make up your mind, Bonnie, cause it’s time to have a serious talk with Clyde. When you step to your husband, you’ve gotta be prepared to break the family bond – the good, bad and the ugly.  Distance yourself from your BIL, if necessary. It won’t be easy, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. Tell your husband to remove his name – immediately – from the car’s registration documents. Let him know you’re done with the shim-shamming. If he won’t remove his name, send him packing. Tell him to go live in the garage, in the car, with his brother, since that’s who he’s committed to.



Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to:  Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.