Let kids know racist inlaw is out of line

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Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: An in-law of mine is very racist. He rants and raves, and these outbursts often are politically charged. He tells racist stories at family events, trying to get a laugh. I have a young child and one on the way. I don't want my kids exposed to this ignorant behavior. I have spoken to him, my husband and his siblings about his views. It is always shrugged off. I believe that people are racist because they learn it. I don't necessarily want to keep my children away from him, so how can I cope?Oppressed

DEAR OPPRESSED: Sometimes, relatives are obnoxious, racist, annoying, rude, drunk, disorderly -- and so not funny. As a parent, your job is not to inoculate your children against all the slings, stupidity and insults of the world; it is to guide them toward your own values, while understanding that others don't share them. In the moment, you can express your own distaste for these remarks: "Uncle Buck, I really do not like it when you go there. Please don't talk that way in front of the kids." As your children get older, they will become discerning. You can tell them, "I don't like it when Uncle Buck says unkind things. But I can't control him. Realize that he is wrong and that we don't talk that way in our family."DEAR AMY: "Real Daughter" was bothered when she heard someone introducing a daughter as her "stepdaughter." Her answer revealed her belief that being a "step" is a bad thing. I am a stepdaughter in a happily blended second marriage. Sometimes I introduce my father and stepmother as "my parents." Sometimes, my stepmom introduces me as "my daughter." She and I both know I am a "real daughter" to another mother, and there are times when she introduces me as her stepdaughter. Thanks for clarifying this is not a sign of disrespect.Stepdaughter

DEAR STEPDAUGHTER: There are nuances that in the "real" world must be acknowledged.