DEAR ABBY: My problem is my daughter-in-law, "Marla," and the verbal abuse she heaps on my son, "Jack." She belittles him in front of me and the children on a daily basis. All my life I listened to my own mother do the same thing to my dad, and it's something I cannot tolerate.
When I've asked my daughter-in-law not to talk to Jack like that, Marla directs her anger at me. So all I can do is what I did with my mother -- get up and leave the room. What I want to say is, "Stop it! He's a good man who's been there for you from day one and doesn't deserve to be trashed!" But I'm afraid it would cause more trouble. I bought Marla a book on anger management, but she threw it away. Last week, I wrote her a letter giving her "what for." (I never mailed it.)
Abby, I'm at my wit's end with this woman and I'm not sure what is the most productive way to move forward. If you print this, I know she'll read it. No name or town, please. Sign me ... TRYING NOT TO BE AN INTERFERING M-I-L
DEAR TRYING: As much as you might wish to intervene, your daughter-in-law's verbal abuse will not stop until your son finds the strength to end it. He needs counseling to boost his self-esteem to the point that he can stand up for himself. Encourage him to do it soon because verbal abuse damages everyone who's exposed to it -- including the children who grow up thinking it is normal behavior.