Q&A (11): How to deal with tricky family members

Dear Sarah,

My son-in law Mark, displays selfish and immature behaviour (vies for attention, goes off topic, plays video games on his phone, pouts when someone says something he doesn't agree with) at family gatherings which all the other family members clearly see. Mark obviously has some issues to work out, but it grieves me to hear my other children and their partners complain and criticize him behind his back (even though it is warranted at times).

We had a family meeting (without Mark and my daughter Jo) and decided we would try to work more cooperatively as a family to support both of them. It is easy to get together as a group to moan about him (when he isn't around), but it only creates a worse problem when Mark starts to feel isolated by the other family members.

Mark and Jo are seeing a marriage therapist, but it is clear we will need to be patient. In the meantime, all of us feel huge sympathy towards Jo and would love to jump to her defense when we see her doing all the child care and household chores. Should we? I realize this sounds complicated, but maybe you can make some sense of it and offer some general advice that all the family can begin to implement.

Love, Louise*

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