I’m seeking your advice on how to best handle a delicate family situation involving a sister-in-law who has become an intolerable know-it-all.
She’s selfish and often spouts her unsubstantiated opinions about others, including family, and she doesn’t care if it’s hurtful and/or potentially damaging to whomever she’s talking about. In this case, it’s one of her grandsons.
Recently, at her house, in a conversation with me, my wife and her sister, she mentioned that her grandson, now 20, has never had a girlfriend (that she knows about), so “he must be gay” and he should come right out and admit it.
My wife and I were shocked that she’d say this. Sadly, we didn’t respond.
Her husband won’t say anything to her as he was caught having an indiscretion years ago, so she has him under her thumb.
Her grandson is very naive and immature for his age.
If he learns that his own grandmother is saying these things behind his back, it’ll damage him for life.
Her son, the boy's father, knows nothing of this conversation.
What kind of a grandmother says these things about her own grandson? Should we let his father know?
What’s the best way to handle this before it’s too late?
There’s rarely a “best way” to get a nasty gossip to recognize the harm they do.
This selfish attention-seeker is spreading rumours about their own grandchild. If he is gay or bisexual, that’s his business to disclose or not.
Hopefully, with good relationships with other relatives, including you and your wife, this grandmother can be seen for who and what she is: mean-spirited and angry at the world because her husband cheated on her.
Meanwhile, you and your wife have a role in this young man’s life. Speak up! Tell this grandmother she doesn’t know what she’s talking about and, if she persists, she doesn’t deserve a place in her grandson’s life.
If necessary, avoid her altogether. There’s nothing in her character worth your time. Also, I believe you should alert the young man’s father of the grandmother’s gossip, but, if possible, keep that information from his son.
Whether or not he’s gay is only significant as another opportunity for the grandmother to spread judgement and meanness among the whole family.
Reader’s Commentary Just a message to "Detail Dad" wanting to shift the daughter's period angst to Mom (July 4):
“This is the very reason Period Shame exists. My message to this dad is suck-it-up, Buttercup. Be grateful your daughter is so comfortable and proud that you and Mom have created an environment that she freely talks to you.
“Your daughter would be disheartened to hear that you didn't want to have those discussions. My husband and I are parents to a son, 26 and a daughter, 21.
“Both of our kids have always spoken to us equally, and we’re grateful that we created that environment for them to do so.
“In fact, it came in handy when I was away helping a friend through an accident in another city and my 12-year-old got her period for the very first time.
“Her amazing father helped her every step of the way. When I returned home after being away for months, she would walk by me in the kitchen to open the garage door to yell out to her father to pick up pads!
“At that moment I knew that if anything ever happened to me, he could do it just as well as I could.”
FEEDBACK Regarding a divorced woman threatened with assault at her home (July 3):
Reader - “Provincial crisis lines are free, confidential 24-hour helplines offering someone to talk to, crisis counselling, emotional support, safety planning, legal information and other assistance. Call a provincial crisis line no matter where you’re located in the province.
Assaulted women’s helpline: Toll-free: 1-866-863-0511 or TTY 1 - 863-7868.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman whose new husband left and is ghosting her (July 1):
“Maybe your family should do what mine did, desert you completely. I had no job at the marriage’s end, so when he ended it completely by surprise, I had nowhere to live, no money, no anything.
“I slept in my car for months, rescued by an old friend I hadn’t seen for years.
“I’m slowly getting my life together but I can tell you this, no more men. My husband destroyed any attraction I ever had to men.”
Tip of the day:
When a grandmother behaves as the extended family’s gossip-spreader, walk away.