DEAR ABBY: My mother passed away recently. My sister, who lives in another state, flew in with her 4-year-old daughter, "Nikki," to attend Mom's wake.
When the wake ended, Nikki began to place stickers on Mom's hands and one on her face. The stickers had been given to her by another guest before the service started. When my 18-year-old daughter saw what her cousin had done, she removed them, and Nikki threw a tantrum and refused to leave the casket. My sister spoke quietly to her, trying to get the child to leave, then allowed her to put at least two more stickers on my mother's hand. Finally, I gently picked Nikki up and took her away from the casket. My father is a mild-mannered man and, although he frowned in disapproval, he said nothing.
This has caused a huge rift between my sister and me. I feel a 4-year-old is too young to attend a wake. Nikki should not have been allowed to put stickers on my mother. My sister says I "undermined" her parenting and had no right to intervene. What are your thoughts? -- SADDENED IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR SADDENED: If one defines parenting as teaching a child appropriate behavior, your sister wasn't parenting at all. Although the child was well-intentioned, unless the stickers said "Return to Sender," they had no place at the funeral. My condolences to your family.