I love my sister-in-law, but she is the queen of unsolicited advice. Any conversation about my work, our house, conflicts with friends or dealing with our kids, if it includes anything relating to a problem or disappointment — even if I have expressed no hint of being in doubt about what to do, or even whether anything needs to be done — brings an immediate “You should . . . ” The first few times, I can brush it off, listen politely and go on to the next subject, etc. But she comes to visit for several days. After the first six or seven instances of this, it gets really annoying. By the way, the advice is usually rather impractical or unhelpful. How do I handle this?
From, Norfolk, Virginia
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It’s good to hear that you love your sister-in-law. But now you have to turn that emotion off, and treat her like a mongoose treats a snake, until she gets the message. I would suggest that you flip the script, and give her ten times the amount of advice that she gives you. For starters, call her at about 2 a.m. and then give her advice on the proper way to answer a phone call at an ungodly hour. Regularly criticize her grammar, and then tell her you refuse to talk to her again, unless she can produce her 8th grade diploma, so you’ll know what public school to blame for her inability to grasp simple English. If she doesn’t walk very feminine, advise her on how to be more lady-like. If she does walk feminine, tell her to tone it down because you think she struts like the women in the seedy part of town that are constantly trying to flag down cars driven by lonely men. If your sister-in-law is single, this is the best advice. Every time you see her, be carrying a checklist on a clipboard, that contains all of the areas in her life that you want her to address. And when she gets a new boyfriend, give the checklist to him and include, “needs to stop poisoning men who dump her”. I hope this helps.