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Originally published Friday, May 9, 2014 at 6:16 AM

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Pregnant sister-in-law isn’t the difficult one

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax tells miffed relative to cool it.


Syndicated columnist

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Thank you Caroline for addressing the ugly issue of family gossip. Disclaimer: Gossipers are not always exclusively... MORE

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Dear Carolyn

DEAR CAROLYN: My brother’s wife is pregnant and very difficult. First, she took weeks to even tell me that I was going to be an aunt. Then, she asked me not to tell anyone, including my own sons, until she was further along. It took a few more weeks until she would “let” my sons know, and then she told them herself! When I wanted to take a picture of how she told them, “in a special way,” she asked me not to put it on Facebook.

What do I say to her to let her know how rude and selfish she’s being? My boys are excited to be big cousins and I want my friends and family to know about their being cousins.

— Excluded Family

DEAR EXCLUDED FAMILY: Whose body is this?

Whose fetus is this?

Whose news is this?

Whose decision is this on how, when and with whom the news will be shared?

Whose job would it be to retract the good news far and wide if she miscarried after she “let” the news spread unchecked?

I can’t say I’m a fan of the highly controlled news release, but that preference applies to no one but me, and to no one’s news but mine; your sister-in-law’s comfort zone is what governs the release of her news.

So, to identify the person who’s being “very difficult” (and self-centered, and, if you’re pressuring her or complaining to others in the family circle, rude), you need a mirror. Your sister-in-law is not having a baby just to entertain your children or provide you with the perfect social-media moment. Your place in this life event is squarely on the sidelines.

Know that place, and stay in it, unless and until you’re invited to step in closer. As it happens, showing such respect, restraint and good sportsmanship will multiply your opportunities to take joyous part; conversely, ignoring boundaries will secure you a well-deserved spot on the bench.

Hi, Carolyn:

My boyfriend and I have been dating for over a year and a half and we’ve decided he is going to move in with me next month. We’ve had our little ups and downs, and we work things out.

As exciting as this is for us, I’m less excited about telling my mom, for fear of a negative reaction. I planned on telling her after he’s been moved in for about a month. She may come to visit me this summer and I don’t know if I should tell her before she arrives or after.

— Cohabiting

DEAR COHABITING: Besides postponing your discomfort, what exactly will you accomplish by delaying this talk with your mom? As far as I can tell, you’ll merely add the insult of hiding something from her to her perceived injury of your making choices she’d rather you didn’t make.

If you’re ready to do it, then you’re ready to own it.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living



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