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Friday, 05 May 2017 02:27

How do you open up a dialogue with your sister-in-law about her child?

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How do you open up a dialogue with your sister-in-law about her child?

Hello AC,

I’d like help.  My new sister-in-law was visiting recently from New Jersey.  Looking forward to getting to know her and the kids, I was disappointed when our bonding was hi-jacked by her youngest daughter. 

My sister-in-law spent much of our time together talking over, scolding and correcting her.  Her oldest daughter told me that her sister is like this all the time, and she hates being around her.  I watched my sister-in-law struggling and putting on a brave, apologetic face.  I remember that face.  It used to be mine.  My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s in first grade. 

How do I talk to her about her daughter without insulting her? 



Hello, Torn.

You pose a challenging dilemma.  Do you reach out and put your new relationship at risk, or remain silent in hopes of the situation resolving itself?  First, I commend you for looking beyond what some may see as an undisciplined child in need of an ol’ fashioned butt whoopin’.  Thanks for being compassionate. 

Now, how do you open up a dialogue with your sister-in-law about her child?  I don’t know.  Parents rarely welcome unsolicited input on how to raise their children.  I know of a mother and daughter-in-law who are in a feud that began when the mother suggested cloth diapers over disposable ones.   The baby is now in middle school, (diaper rash free) while the in-laws remain estranged.  Parenting advice is tricky regardless of how noble the intent may be.  I suggest you first consider how you felt when you were in her shoes then, tread lightly.  

With a decision to move forward with talking to your sister-in-law, my advice is to ask her open-ended questions.  For example, “what activities does her daughter enjoy with friends, at school or with family.”    She may share stories that will open the door for you to share about your son, specifically the challenges you face as a parent in similar situations.   

Also, be ready to (gently) support her with information and resources. 

Genuine caring is the sugar that helps the bitter pill go down.  

It takes a village!

Read 1517 times Last modified on Friday, 05 May 2017 08:38
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AC is an East Coast transplant who became rooted in the SFV.  “Yup”, AC said “I found a place in North Hollywood years ago, and though I’ve traveled the world over this is the place I call home.  Well, also Massachusetts because that’s where I was born.  I think of  Hawaii as my second home, but I don’t own property there so maybe I can’t count that.  I was going to say Paris, at first cause I am very comfortable there, but then, you know I’m American and I don’t want to be too pompous.  So, yeah, I guess the San Fernando Valley is home.”

A street scholar, majoring in hard knocks and common sense, AC, attended night school receiving a high school diploma.  With a thirst for knowledge, AC continued education included many, many on line courses and seminars from selling beets at your local farmers market and how to shuck clams to Introduction to wine.

AC has been offering advice to everyone, whether they ask for it or not.  At times AC’s advice has been met with animosity and physical threats.  None the less AC preservers.   “It’s my calling” says AC, who urges readers to send in their confounding queries; “If you want advice (in the words of the 45th President), ‘what do you have to lose’, Ask AC?”

What makes AC’s columns unique is that it feels like you are getting advice from a friend, a person you can rely on for lively, no-nonsense feedback.  Ask AC is the best advice columnist by a Los Angeles mile."

AC resides in North Hollywood has two children, is an animal lover and has an active social life.  An adventure sport enthusiast, writer, performer, corporate baby, and community volunteer.  AC devotes time to family, community and in the service of others.  

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