Sister-in-law always seems to be negative

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Dear Aunty Pam,


My husband’s sister is one of those people who tend to point things out that are neither kind nor helpful. For example, when she heard that a cousin was diagnosed with lung cancer, she said to him, “Well, you’ve smoked all your life.” There was another time when she learned that a neighbor’s kid was in ICU from a terrible car crash, she said to the kid’s mom, “I don’t know why anyone would allow a 16-year-old to have a sports car that can go that fast.”

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My husband’s birthday is coming up and he recently was diagnosed with diabetes. He’s always been overweight but has had a hard ‘wake-up call,’ and is now doing everything he can to lose weight and get healthy. I’m planning his birthday party and I just know ‘Cindy’ is going to say something about his diagnosis, as their mother informed Cindy about the diabetes.


Any suggestions on what to say to Cindy when she says, “Well, you’ve always been too overweight,” etc? To tell you the truth, she’s so negative that I don’t even want her at the party and my husband doesn’t either, but it’s family and he’s sort of stuck.


Can you help?



Protective Wife


Dear Wifey,


How good of you to be thinking proactively about your hubs and well done, HIM, for taking charge of his health. He might even be able to reverse the diabetes and get off all meds, as some have, so here’s hoping!


As you know, Aunty Pam will obligingly suffer fools, but not cruels, and with Cindy’s track record, it does sound as if there’s a distinct possibility she’ll let off a mouth grenade and throw a bucket of ice water on the day’s festivities.


The way I see it, you have two options: either take your hubby out to a lovely lunch, or a day at the beach, whatever—just the two of you—and forego a party. However, if this causes fissures amongst the rest of the family, especially his mother, then go about the party you plan to have. Perhaps in a public place, like a restaurant, as people tend to be less relaxed at a venue rather than a house, and maybe, just maybe, Cindy will keep her thoughts to herself.


For sure you can think up witty little responses to put Cindy in her place: “Thank you, Cindy, for your observation. I’m sure that’s made your brother feel great on his special day,” but even that will cast a pall upon the birthday. And so Aunty Pam suggests being proactive. Are you brave enough to take Cindy aside when she arrives and say, “Your brother has been working really hard to lose weight and turn his health around, so please don’t mention his weight or diabetes or anything. Especially today, as we don’t want to ruin his birthday, capiche?”


And if that doesn’t work, perhaps a few drops of chloroform in her napkin…


Cheers, dear!

Aunty Pam