Annie: My husband has adult children from his first wife. My new daughter-in-law has become quite vocal about jewelry items that I wear. Lately, she’s been commenting on a diamond ring, and it’s the second time she’s made remarks at family gatherings about it, saying, “I want that ring!”
I find that rude and unsettling. How should I respond? Right now, I don’t say anything. — Puzzled in Texas
Dear Puzzled in Texas: It’s one thing to compliment you on your ring or jewelry, and it’s another to give the impression that she wants for you to give it to her. Complimenting one’s mother-in-law on her ring is a nice gesture. Tell her you’re flattered that she likes it, and then tell her where you got it so that she can get one like it for herself. If she replies that she wants the ring that is on your finger, tell her to keep her mitts off. Your husband needs to back you up, because she is from his side of the family. It is your ring, and you should enjoy it.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Shy,” who wrote to you about witnessing bullying but being too scared to do anything. When I was 9 years old, my family moved to a new town, and I immediately became the target of bullying at my new school. My teachers and parents coached me on how to handle this, but the truth is that only bystanders can have a lasting effect when it comes to stopping bullying. The victims are powerless. After a year of my enduring this torment, one of my classmates stood up on my behalf. It’s been 15 years since then, and while many memories from that time have faded, I still remember her name and how grateful I was to her. She stood up and said she cared about me when I felt so incredibly alone. I consider what she did nothing short of heroic. I hope “Shy” will find the courage to stand up for these victims. The world needs more heroes. — Forever Grateful
Dear Forever Grateful: Wow — what a beautiful letter. I hope it inspires someone reading this to stand up for a classmate who’s being bullied. Thank you so much for sharing your story.
Dear Annie: As an elementary school counselor, I work often with students around bullying. The bystander who wrote to you has another option that might be just as successful as intervening as you advised. “Shy” could ignore the teaser and interact with the victim. She could say something supportive or something neutral — for example, “Are you heading to art class now? Let’s walk together.” There are more difficult and easier ways to intervene. — Sarge
Dear Sarge: I’m printing your bright suggestion. This is a great way for students who are afraid of confrontation to still help their bullied peers. I appreciate your writing, as well as all your work helping children over the years as an elementary school counselor.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.