The Record (Troy, NY)

Stand up or stay silent?

- Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators. com.

DEAR ANNIE » I am so upset. A longdistan­ce relative is visiting my parents. For some reason, he has taken a shine to me, but he is cruel to my sibling. He constantly makes derogatory comments about him, saying he’s big and making multiple comments about his size or weight. Sometimes it is obtuse, asking him, “Where are you going, to get more food?” and similar comments that other people seem to miss.

My sibling is a very kind-hearted, gentle soul. I am at a loss for words when this happens. Should I interrupt this relative and say that this is not OK? I do not approve of how he treats my sibling.

So far, no one else has noticed, and my father is enjoying this visit and even wants to travel to see this relative in the future. After my sibling left one evening, I quite assertivel­y told the relative that my sibling was a very nice person, but I’m not sure if he picked up on my defense of my brother. This relative drinks extensivel­y, but I just do not understand how this is OK — ever!

I am a larger size than my brother, but I am female, and no one would dare say these things to me. Why is this acceptable to say to a man? It is just as hurtful and cruel. What can I say to these bullies that would be helpful? When strangers have made these hurtful comments to me, I just wanted to disappear. Would confrontin­g this person cause more discomfort? Also, my father is enjoying the visit. Do I tell him how this relative treated his son and ruin the relationsh­ip?

I wish I could stop this bully.

— Unsure

DEAR UNSURE » You don’t mention anything about how your sibling feels about the situation. It is obviously unfair and mean-spirited that your relative is being so insulting, but causing a scene might embarrass your brother even more. Before you take action, pull your brother aside and ask him if he (SET ITAL) wants (END ITAL) you to take a stand, and if so, whether he would prefer it be in public or in private.

It might make sense to start with your dad. You can say something like, “I know it’s fun having (relative) around, but we should all make an effort to shut it down when he starts making rude comments,” or, “I noticed he loses his manners when he drinks, maybe we shouldn’t serve wine at dinner tonight.”

If these more subtle tactics don’t work, then yes, I would recommend confrontin­g this bully — provided, of course, it is in line with your brother’s wishes.

DEAR ANNIE » My 20-something grandson calls me from prison every month needing money. I know everyone will say, “Just stop giving him money,” but it isn’t that easy. I know he had a hard, drug-filled life when he went in. And a bad childhood. But no matter how much I tell him about how I go without, he just doesn’t get it. He will be getting out soon, and it’s going to be worse. I only get a Social Security check. I hate living without my needs being met, but I feel bad for him. Help.

— Broke Granny

DEAR BROKE GRANNY » It’s commendabl­e that you want to help your grandson, but you need to set some boundaries. He is taking advantage of your generosity.

Tell him that you love him and that you want to spend time with him, but that you just can’t afford to be giving him money. Explain your financial situation to him. Anyone who truly has your best interests at heart will accept your boundaries with compassion. You might suggest — or insist — that he start going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

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