DEAR ABBY: My brother and his wife have been married 3 1/2 years and have an 18-month-old daughter. My sister-in-law, "Barb," is either very rude or passive-aggressive to our mother in emails and when she thinks no one is around.
At Christmas, Barb sends out an email detailing what we are and are not allowed to buy for their daughter. If we can't do exactly what she wants, she threatens to cancel Christmas. This includes asking her permission before we buy any toys. Barb tells my mom that because her mother doesn't have much money, Mom can't spend more than her mother does. So, because my family has a little more money, we are being punished.
Barb is extremely demeaning and hurtful to us. I can't understand why my brother allows it. My husband and I are sick and tired of her acting this way, and the way she treats my mother is cruel. I'm tempted to confront her about how she has ruined Christmas for my parents. She basically doesn't allow us to have feelings, and I can't believe we are standing for it. Help! -- HOLIDAY HOSTAGE
DEAR HOSTAGE: Your sister-in-law may be telling your parents not to spend more money on gifts for the grandchild because she doesn't want her mother to be embarrassed. However, if her rude behavior extends beyond that, rather than take her on, the person you should "confront" about it is your brother.