Dear Amy:

My husband's sister is expecting her first child.

While I couldn't be happier for her, I was dismayed when she informed me that she was planning on naming the child with my name, complete with its "unique" spelling! She said that this was after her husband's maternal grandmother (who had the same name but traditional spelling). She then told me that while she's never liked anyone with the name, she thinks it's best because it's what her husband wants.

In my family it's highly disrespectful to name any child after a living relative (the superstition being that the living relative's time is at an end).

She has a shower coming up. I've bought a present for the baby, but how do I address the card? And should it just be from my husband to show how angry I am with her? I suppose I could use "Baby My Name" or the nickname she called it before (a food, which disturbed me as well). How am I supposed to deal with this?

Kristyna

This is a classic case of two wrongs making a mess. Evidently, your sister-in-law doesn't like you very much, though she clearly loves your name. Don't compound her rudeness to you by planning some silly retaliation. This woman can choose to name her baby any name she wants, even if it also belongs to you.

Your next move should be to feel flattered. Flattery will get you everywhere.

When you attend your sister-in-law's baby shower, you should address the gift card to the mother, not the unborn baby. When the issue of the name comes up, your public demeanor should be that you are delighted to think that a baby in your husband's family will bear your unusual name and that you'll always have plenty of monogrammed things to hand down to this child. You gain nothing by acting peevish.

Dear Amy:

My brother, "Gregory," has just announced his engagement to "Cynthia." They're both in their early thirties. This will be Greg's first marriage and Cynthia's third. They've been dating for less than three months and are getting married a month from now. Our parents are trying to be supportive, but needless to say Cynthia's track record is less than stellar. This is made more complicated by the fact that our parents are devout Baptists and she is of another Christian faith, and the ceremony planned will be a civil one.

To add to this situation, Greg has stated that the extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins -- and there are many of them, several from out of state) should attend or he will no longer speak to them.

I've tried explaining that the speed with which this has come about makes it unlikely that many can attend, just on a practical level. Yet he's taken a "they're either for us or against us" stance, and he doesn't seem likely to budge.

Should I (figuratively) smack my brother across the face for being a bit of a selfish dope? Or should I assume that this is pre-wedding jitters? Did I mention that he still has not actually contacted family members to let them know of his impending nuptials?

Frustrated

A figurative dope-slap is in order, but you must do so in a way that clarifies the situation rather than inflames it.

The best way to handle this might be to ask Greg a series of questions, and listen to his answers. Why is he marrying so quickly? What does he expect from others? Are his expectations reasonable? Are there other and perhaps more tolerant ways for him to handle his expectations?

Do not criticize his fiance -- if you do, this conversation becomes about her and not about how this grown man is handling himself.

After listening to your brother's answers, tell him that you support him and his decisions, except when his choices threaten to hurt family members.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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