DEAR ABBY: Do you think it's right for parents to yell at their kids in front of company? It's always over trivial things. I suspect that our friends feel they must show us they're "on the job" as parents.
The problem with these driven, overly critical parents is that their yelling not only embarrasses the children, but also makes us, the visitors, feel awkward. It sends a message to the children that their parents' disciplinary skills are weak, because they use company as witnesses to humiliate them.
I've been tempted to tell our friends, "How about praising your kids once in a while?" Am I right to keep silent? -- NOT-SO-HONORED GUEST
DEAR NOT: No. Remind them of the admirable qualities you see in their children and urge them to praise them as well as criticize.
If parents must discipline children, it should be done privately. For a parent to yell at a child in front of guests carries the same message as a boss who publicly reprimands an employee. It shows a lack of respect and that the person's feelings don't matter -- hardly a recipe for harmony in business or family.