I am dreading the holidays as my mother-in-law snoops when she is visiting. I know she has gone through our medicine cabinet and my desk as I have caught her rifling through our things, even though she claims she was just looking for aspirin or looking for a pen or whatever. How do I handle this in a way that won’t start World War III?

—Reluctant Hostess (United States)


If you have something incredibly personal and private you don’t want to see, perhaps you might need to invest in a lockbox.

The next time you catch your mother-in-law in the act of snooping, I would address it neutrally, saying something like, “I’m really private and prefer that you not go into our medicine cabinet without asking but please feel free to ask me if you need anything and I will happily get you whatever you need.” If she cannot respect your rules and privacy once you’ve made that clear in a friendly and neutral way, you can always book her a room in a nearby bed and breakfast or spend the holidays at her house or meet at a neutral location like a scenic town halfway between you.

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