DEAR ABBY: I recently married "Matt," the man of my dreams. We want to have children someday. Although I love Matt, I do not love the other men in his family -- specifically his father and his brothers. I'm worried about the negative influence they may have on our children.
These people swear and make racist comments and jokes in front of their children. Matt has spoken to them about it in front of me, but it hasn't stopped them or altered the way they act.
I'm an adult. I understand that these people haven't had the same educational opportunities and positive parental guidance that I was fortunate enough to have, but I worry about the influence they may have on our children. I don't want to ruin my husband's relationship with his family, but if they won't cut out the comments, I don't see how I can allow them to be a part of our children's lives. Please help. -– DISTRESSED NEW WIFE IN VERMONT
DEAR NEW WIFE: I don't know how tied into this family your husband is, but it may not be possible to totally separate your children from their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins -– unless you plan to move across the country. Obviously, you married the "pick of the litter."
Please keep in mind that every family has its own standards of what is acceptable and what isn't, and yours will be no exception. You will educate your children to a higher level, and reinforce the qualities you and your husband feel are important not only by modeling good behavior for them and praising them when they emulate it, but also by pointing out what is unacceptable and telling them why. It's a more effective way to teach children their values rather than isolating them.