Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Mother's Rules for Marriage Brought Lifetime of Happiness

DEAR ABBY: My wife, our 4-year-old daughter, "Betsy," and I went to my in-laws' for dinner recently. Within 30 minutes of our arrival, my mother-in-law had called her husband "stupid" and "dummy." Everyone heard it, including Betsy. Now, she uses those words when speaking of her grandfather.

My wife tolerates her mother's behavior, but I find it humiliating to witness. At home I am able to discipline Betsy, but I don't want to have to discipline her when she's at her grandmother's.

I have mentioned this to my in-laws on several occasions, but the situation recurs. We live only a few blocks from them and frequently eat together. Should we sell our house and move 10 or 20 miles away? -- A FATHER IN TACOMA

DEAR FATHER: Moving should not be necessary. Talk to your mother-in-law again, and make it clear that her name-calling sets a very bad example for her grandchild. If your suggestion falls on deaf ears and she continues the name-calling, just limit your daughter's exposure to her grandmother.