DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm 40 years old with 9-year-old twin girls and was horrified at your reply to the person who wrote in asking about what should be done when his or her mother-in-law rudely comments on another family member's weight. I'm sorry, but politely changing the subject is NOT enough. This mother-in-law is a bully and should be called one at that exact moment. Someone should stand up for the daughter-in-law being bullied as well. Any children in her presence need to be taught that this behavior is unacceptable. Politely and uncomfortably sitting by and continuing to eat while this poor woman is berated is unacceptable, and if her husband (the bully's son) isn't man enough to stand up to this bully, then someone else should. I would have stopped the woman from saying another hateful word, then I would have gotten up and taken my family home. PERIOD.
It is only when others stand up to bullies (in a non-violent manner), that we will be able to teach our children how to help end this horrible issue that is tragically affecting our young children. -- Take a Stand, Belmont, N.C.
DEAR TAKE A STAND: Your fiery view is a valid way of looking at this situation. It is unkind to speak disparagingly about anyone, especially children. Making the choice to directly address the mother-in-law's comments in the moment may get her to see that she should not speak that way. The downside is that it may also embarrass the family member whom she derided even more. Speaking with her in private and being clear about the negative impact of her words may be more helpful for everyone involved.