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 he 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 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 have actually had more than one panic attack when I tried to "suck it up" for my hubby's sake. 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? How can I tell her I can't handle being around him, without becoming the evil in-law?
-- Had It Up to Here
DEAR HAD IT: This boy is (I assume) 3 or 4 years old. He will 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.
You might have to settle with being the evil in-law, because you cannot single out one child to exclude from your home (especially if there are other children in the extended family) 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.