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by Abigail Van Buren

Sister-in-Law Asked for Parenting Advice Is Reluctant to Give It

DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law recently asked me for parenting advice. Our kids are about the same age, and she has been having issues with her preschooler's behavior that I don't have with my son.

Abby, the reason her kid is out of control is she and her husband don't give him any limits. They don't believe in saying "no" and try instead to "guide him to positive choices." They never discipline him, even when he hits or screams at them, and as a result, he's mean and disrespectful. Little kids are uncomfortable with that much freedom.

Even though she asked, I don't think my sister-in-law really wants my advice, at least not the advice I would like to give her. So what do I say when she asks? It's clear they need help, but I'm judgmental and probably not a good messenger. I tried loaning her a parenting book I've used, but it didn't take. -- PARENTING ADVICE IN CANADA

DEAR P.A.: Your sister-in-law may simply be venting her frustration when she dumps on you. When she asks for advice again, tell her that because you haven't faced the problems she's encountering, you don't feel "qualified" to advise her. Then suggest she ask her pediatrician for guidance.

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