DEAR AMY: This summer my 21-year-old daughter has been working as a hotel maid. While working one morning she overheard a father say to his teenage son, "You had better stay in school or you will end up like her" -- indicating my daughter. My daughter was hurt. She assumed the father did not intend for her to hear the remark and felt the hotel management would not want her to comment to the guest, and so she said nothing.

I appreciate the father's desire to encourage his son to continue his education, but I am appalled by the lack of respect for a working person. Ironically, my daughter is beginning her junior year at college and working this summer to earn money for a semester abroad. In my opinion, he would be lucky to have his son "end up like her." Should my daughter have said anything -- and if so, what would have been the appropriate response?

Proud Mom

DEAR PROUD: Your daughter did the right thing. Even assuming that this remark was about her (it is possible it wasn't), she should never inject herself into an overheard conversation, unless it involves a matter of health and safety.

People can be jerks. Hotel staffers are in the perfect position to know this -- and many other unsavory aspects of human nature and behavior.

This is one of those delicious moments that life offers up for people with a sense of irony.

Your daughter should raise a toast to this nincompoop from a cafe while she is on her semester abroad. He gave her a great anecdote to use for the rest of her (successful) life.

DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married for almost 17 years. We have three children. We live near his parents. My mother-in-law is great at times and has really been there for us in the past. However, when we get invited to visit at her house, I am still the mom of my kids, right? I expect to discipline my own children. I should be the one to tell the kids to eat everything off their plate, to stop fighting, yelling, etc.

She always butts in and thinks that she rules over me. My husband does nothing to tell her that we -- or I -- can deal with it. The way that I see it, if my husband and I are present, we should be in charge of OUR kids.

It is not like we have left her alone in charge of them. She did raise one of her grandchildren, but she is not raising our kids.

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She is a very controlling person. What she says goes.

I don't want to be a rude daughter-in-law. I expect my husband to deal with his mother -- not me.

Am I in the wrong?

Southern Daughter-in-Law

DEAR SOUTHERN: Perhaps your husband isn't stepping in to correct his mother because -- in a basic sense -- your position is insupportable. The parenting lesson for YOU is to make sure your children understand that when they are at someone else's house, that person's standards should be respected. The general guideline is: "My house, my rules." If your children are not behaving well at their grandmother's house, they should face the consequences of their behavior, which for them means their grandmother getting on their case. She should not punish them, but it is her right to correct them if they've crossed the line.

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Your mother-in-law should not discipline your children at your house.

If you have any kind of beef with her, YOU should be brave enough to handle it, with your husband backing you up, if necessary.

DEAR AMY: Weighing in on the ongoing question of who receives leftovers from potluck meals, I've been part of a potluck group for 10 years. No hostess has ever expected leftovers. Sometimes they end up with leftovers, but no one ever expects it. For us, the only "rule" of potluck is to enjoy each other's company.

Not a Potluck Princess

DEAR PRINCESS: There seems to be no solid "rule" on who gets to keep the food after a potluck meal. Your group's spirit is admirable.