DEAR ABBY: My brother is 53. He has one child, my 12 year old nephew “Conner”. Our father was difficult and neither of us has many fond memories of our time together. Perhaps in response, my brother seems unable to socialize without his son.
He often suggests trips to my husband or his friends, and then adds that he plans to bring Conner along. We don’t want the boy to be involved in the actual adult outings, but we can’t find a way to express it.
If I’m planning a dinner or something else that he’s likely to invite his son to, I put an adults-only clause in front of it. I cannot discuss it with my sister-in-law because although I know she would understand, she would not be tactful in bringing it up with my brother.
My husband isn’t the type to say things; it would mean more to come from him, but he doesn’t want to cause a stir. My brother, by the way, is very outgoing and socially savvy, so it’s not like he needs that 12-year-old crutch. I would be very grateful for suggestions. – FRUSTRATED IN NEVADA
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your brother may not need a social crutch, but from what you have described, your nephew may not. Most 12-year-old boys have other friends besides their father with whom they can get in touch. Is that true of Conner, or would he be sitting alone in his room if his father didn’t involve him in so many adult gatherings? Rather than telling your brother or his wife that the boy is undesirable, it may be more helpful to ask if Conner has trouble socializing with peers. In this case, he may need professional help.
DEAR ABBY: I have a sister-in-law who constantly outdoes me. Anything I mention she has to step in and let everyone in attendance know how much better her trip was or that she got a better shopping deal etc.
It has since passed on to my grandchildren. For example, if I correct her table manners at a family dinner, she’ll come back with a wise comment like “You can keep your elbows on the table” or “It’s okay to eat this with your fingers.” to be an aunt.
Recently, I immediately barked back and asked them not to undermine my comments about my grandchildren’s behavior. She did not answer. I don’t want to damage our otherwise good relationship. She has no grandchildren of her own and occasionally babysits my grandchildren. can i do something better – I had made it this far in Iowa
Dear, had it: Talk to your sister-in-law and set some ground rules. Tell her that as much as you care about her, there are certain parameters she needs to understand when dealing with the grandchildren. Explain what they are. If “Fun Auntie” can’t respect the boundaries, she should see them less often. Not many young people these days are lucky enough to have parents (and grandparents) who can teach them proper manners. Hats off.