Spending the holidays with in-laws can be a treat or a treatment.

You don't bring your mother-in-law roses if she has allergies. You don't bring your father-in-law candy if he's a diabetic. But most of all, you treat them with respect.This is advice Leah Shifrin Averick gives in her book, "How In-Laws Relate: It's All Relative."

Averick, a social worker in the private practice of psychotherapy in Chicago, says the holidays can be trying times for a family.

"Holiday dinners are not always as Norman Rockwell pictured them - happy faces around a table. They can be times of tension. Going home for the holidays can be a fantasy for a young married man or woman.

"Many young couples think going back home to their parents will be just like it was when they were children. They don't comprehend that Dad and Mom are a lot older."

One way to ease the tensions at a holiday dinner is to decide beforehand who will help with the serving and cleanup.

For her book, Averick developed specific suggestions for dealing with in-laws. Chapters include guidance for:

- Balancing family loyalties at holiday time.

- Making great (and lasting) first impressions.

- Planning a tension-free and happy wedding.

- Deciding what to call your in-laws.

- How to cope with in-laws during hard times and after divorce.

- Solving grandparenting problems.

Her book is published by Shapolsky Publishers in New York City. It sells for $15.95 and is available at many bookstores or can be ordered by calling 1-800-288-8889.