DEAR HARRIETTE: My brother and I were jokingly poking fun at our mom the other day. My brother’s girlfriend kind of laughed with us, but now she thinks that she can join in as well. The jokes that we make at my mother’s expense are funny only when we, her kids, make them. It’s inappropriate for an outsider to join in. Should I say something to her, or should I ask my brother to say something? -- Stay Out of It
DEAR STAY OUT OF IT: Someone definitely needs to speak to her about this situation. You cannot expect her to know that these jokes are off-limits to her. She is not a mind reader. Ideally, it should come from your brother. Speak to him about it. Remind him of the scenario that recently occurred and what was said. Point out that you consider your inside jokes with your mom to be just that -- “inside jokes.” You think it is inappropriate for a non-family member to chime in on them. Suggest to your brother that he tell her to stay mum when you guys have your fun with your mom. If he feels uncomfortable expressing this to her, let him know that you will.
The conversation does not have to be heavy, by the way. It can be matter-of-fact. Tell her that when you and your brother poke fun at your mom, it’s better for her to remain a bystander. She is welcome to hang with you all, but the private family jokes are reserved for the three of you.