Life Advice



Ask Amy: Father-in-law’s rudeness might be medical

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My wife’s parents have been married for almost 40 years. My father-in-law recently told my wife that he plans to divorce my mother-in-law, and then move away. He has not told his wife yet, but his unhappiness is obvious, due to the rude comments he frequently makes to her.

He will openly criticize traits of hers that he doesn’t like, and he does it in a very disrespectful way. My wife and I have been married for five years, but all of the family members I’ve met say my mother-in-law’s personality hasn’t changed over the years, so why this sudden harshness toward her?

My father-in-law has started making similar rude comments about our 2-year-old daughter, “Clara.” Clara has a big vocabulary and is very strong willed. She can be demanding and will throw temper tantrums -- just like any other toddler.

When she displays these behaviors, my father-in-law will start making the exact same remarks about her that he does about his wife. He will even call my daughter by his wife’s first name and talk about how they’re exactly alike.

They live nearby and we see them almost daily, so this happens often.

I want Clara to grow up to be a strong-willed woman, so I don’t want anything to quell her spirited nature. I also don’t think it’s appropriate for a husband/grandfather to be talking to his wife/grandchild the way he does.


How should I handle this?

My wife is hesitant to say anything to him about it.

Should I speak with him about this? If so, how? Or should I let my wife and mother-in-law handle him as they see fit?

Protective Poppa


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