Difficult Conversation Must Happen


Dear John,
I've been a follower of yours for almost 20 years now. You have helped me to see that I can strike a balance between the "new psychobabble" and God's Truth. I am forced to balance those two because I am a preschool teacher in a public school, so I have to "play" the part of an "enlightened teacher" while also teaching "for real". What that looks like in my classroom is that I teach a lot of problem solving strategies, give them a lot of emotional vocabulary, and balance that with "....but, your choices have consequences." (The consequences are the part that is not acceptable.) All of this is my introduction to my question: I have an extended family member who wanted to become a closer part of my family. (Long story - but she has no other family and only had a dysfunctional one before she reconnected to my son in law, who didn't know her until age 24.) My husband and I enjoy good relationships with our grown children, who are now our friends. She is married with one daughter (age 10) whom she is excessively strict toward. She punishes this child in our presence by humiliating her about things she did weeks ago. She insists on treating our entire family to expensive dining-out and celebrating time together while humiliating her daughter during our time together. She will not be allowed to speak, not enjoy the same activities of the other children (coloring, playing with toys, etc.), not even share snacks or drinks with us. (Think Cinderella!) I don't know how to approach this with her. My thinking is, if she wants to be a part of our family, then I feel obliged to speak freely as I would to my own adult children - which would be to "speak the truth in love". I don't see her often, as she lives several hours from us, but it is painful to watch the emotional abuse of this sweet child. What would you advise?

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