Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Sister-In-Law Wants to Teach Kids to Shoot

DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister-in-law has decided that she is going to give her children and mine shooting lessons. She thinks that it is wise for everyone to know how to use a gun. She went so far as to say that she thinks every single person should own a gun.

I do not share her beliefs about guns. In part this could be because I grew up and live in the city. She lives in a rural part of the country where most families have guns. They shoot wildlife regularly and even go hunting.

I’m OK with her and her family doing what they like. What I don’t appreciate is her trying to force me to allow my children to get shooting lessons or own a gun. Of course my kids are excited about the idea, which infuriates me. I want to raise my kids my way without my sister-in-law interfering. -- No-Gun Zone, Jersey City, New Jersey

DEAR NO-GUN ZONE: Feel free to draw the line. Make it clear that you do not want your children to be involved with guns. Ask her to honor your request. Have a frank conversation with her about your thoughts as you listen to hers. It is OK for you to disagree on this topic. What has to happen, though, is that she does not cross the line regarding what she exposes your children to. Otherwise, you will not feel comfortable allowing your children to be in her company unsupervised.

Know that it is against federal law for children under 18 to own a handgun, but there is no age limit on the use or ownership of shotguns and rifles. You have to enforce your rules.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety | Etiquette & Ethics

Grandmother Has Lost Her Filter

DEAR HARRIETTE: My grandmother is getting up in age, and I have noticed that she has no filter. She says just about anything to people, and a lot of times it is rude.

She saw my sister for the first time in a long time and my sister has gained quite a bit of weight. The first thing my grandmother said to her was, “Oh, my God. Look at you. You are fat!” She then proceeded to try to hug my sister, who didn’t want to hug her after she had just been insulted. While it is true that my sister got heavy, that was no way to greet her own granddaughter.

That’s not all. If my grandmother doesn’t like what you are wearing, she makes loud comments. If she doesn’t like her meal, she criticizes the cooking. It is endless, and this is different for her. She used to be nice. How can we get her to notice that her comments are hurting people’s feelings? -- Bad Granny, Charlotte, North Carolina

DEAR BAD GRANNY: When your grandmother says unkind things, it is OK for someone to say something to her immediately. When she calls her granddaughter fat, someone can say, “That’s not nice, Grandma.” Or “Please don’t say mean things, Grandma.” This may not stop her, but at least it will acknowledge that the comment was unkind. Sometimes old people do lose their filters. Keep telling her that she is hurting your feelings or being mean. She may hear you sometimes.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Etiquette & Ethics | Mental Health