New Zealand's Sylvia Ashton-Warner put the plight of the mother-in-law as well as anyone when she wrote that ''quite nice women suddenly have to wear this title.'' It's true. The woman is still the same woman, though our author does warn about changing to fit the title. She is still a mother, already honored by Mother's Day. The question is whether she should be subject to some form of double jeopardy with a Mother-in-Law Day, too. Almost half the states have taken this redundant step. Now the House of Representatives has voted for a national version.

We are all for honoring each and every mother-in-law - not to mention father-in-law - to the full extent they deserve. But a National Mother-in-Law Day? Who needs a federal bailout for the mother-in-law joke industry? The notion of restoring mothers-in-law to a position of respect through trumpeting their unchosen label once a year suggests that congressmen are even farther out of touch than most mothers-in-law thought.

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