Dear Amy: I recently joined a wonderful family when I married a great man. Everything's perfect -- except for his nephew. The boy is not quite old enough to be in school yet, but this poor little guy has been coddled by his mother since the day he was born.
He has been taught that if you scream, cry and whine long enough, mommy will come to the rescue bearing gifts and consolations.
It has been brought to her attention numerous times by family members that discipline can be a good thing for a child, and that his behavior is essentially ruining family gatherings (yet they both continue to be invited).
I can't stand to be in the same room with this child for more than an hour (and I usually adore children), and as a result my husband and I have to excuse ourselves early from gatherings if the child is present.
I realize this is not the child's fault, but I have recently made the decision that he will not be welcome in my home.
Is there a tactful way to help guide his mother toward better parenting strategies?
-- Had It Up to Here
Dear Had It: This boy is (I assume) 3 or 4 years old. He will definitely mature. Do you have similar potential? I wonder.
It is much easier to be around (and "adore") a well-behaved child than an out-of-control one, but when it comes to family -- kids are just the start.
Being a member of a family exposes a person to all sorts of annoyances and indignities. "Uncle Joe" is a womanizer. "Aunt Sue" has a drinking problem. "Grammy" is a busybody.
You might have to settle with being the evil in-law, because you cannot single out one child to exclude from your home without family members noticing and judging you.
You're the adult. Work harder to be more tolerant. And if you don't want to have this child in your home, you'll have to tell his parents that they'll need to get a sitter if they want to come over.
Dear Amy: Although I care about my mother-in-law, I'm starting to resent her. She has continuous money troubles and is always bringing up her financial issues in front of the family. This makes the entire family uncomfortable because she's always asking for money, and yet she spends lavishly.
Recently she borrowed a large sum from my husband and me and then told us that she splurged and bought an expensive appliance she doesn't need. I couldn't even look her in the eyes! She has a housekeeper and has a very costly gym membership.
We have a family of our own to support! It really bothers me that she feels entitled to borrow money when she is not wise with her own. How do I let her know that this behavior has to stop -- without hurting our family relationship?
Dear Amy: I was appalled to read the letter from "Stressed Soccer Mom," written about her child's grandfather being abusive on the sidelines of the games.
I am a referee for soccer, and I see this all the time.
The ref has an obligation to stop this behavior and banish anyone doing this.
-- Canadian referee
Dear Referee: Refs should definitely take a strong stance on sideline abuse. Thank you.