Glass house inhabitant might lob stone

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Dear Amy: My good friend is cheating on her husband with her best friend's husband. This seems doubly wrong to me. I know her husband very well, and he's a great guy. I also know her best friend fairly well.

I don't want to judge. I want to be there for my friend, but at what point am I condoning my friend's behavior by not speaking up?

It's possible that I have a guilty conscience because several years ago I cheated on my boyfriend (who is now my fiance). I confessed to him, and he forgave me (obviously), but I feel I can't cast the first stone against my friend. I wasn't married to the significant other I cheated on, and it wasn't with my best friend's husband, but I know my behavior was wrong.

Do I have a right to be disgusted by my friend's cheating? Should I pull away from my friend because I don't condone her cheating, or should I mind my own business?

— Former Cheater

Dear Former: You have the right to be disgusted by your friend's cheating; presumably you are now also disgusted by your own history of cheating.

When someone close to you behaves in a way that disgusts you, it is natural to pull away. But if this is a close friend, you also owe her a truthful explanation for the distance. If you start by telling your friend about your own regrettable behavior, she might be inclined to listen.

Dear Amy: My 26-year-old daughter waitresses in an upscale eatery in a liberal college town. She has numerous tattoos visible on her arms and legs, which get a lot of attention. I don't like tattoos, but she is my child, and I love her regardless.

A co-worker's mom, who is Mormon and visiting from out of state, sat in my daughter's section and proceeded to tell her that she was disgusting. She said she could not believe my daughter was allowed to work there, told her not to spit in her food and said that she is going to hell.

I am seething. My religious beliefs teach love and acceptance to all, and I firmly believe that I should not judge others. My daughter treated the offender with kindness, but she was stunned by this spewing. What a perfect way to turn others against religion!

Was there a tactful response my daughter could have given to make the offender realize her behavior was wrong?

— Sad Mom

Dear Sad: This isn't about religion, but about rudeness. Your daughter's job at the restaurant is to serve food, but this does not mean she is required to tolerate hateful comments or educate customers about how to behave. It seems to me that treating someone with kindness, even if that person is unkind, serves many purposes. It defuses the situation and also provides a model for appropriate behavior.

In the moment, your daughter might have said, "You might prefer a different table. Would you like to speak with the manager?" The goal should be to provide professional service, and turn the table over quickly and peacefully.

Dear Amy: This is regarding the letter from "Anxious Wife," about her husband's mean behavior toward their 7-year-old son.

Your response did not go far enough. This man will not change until he comes to a deep realization of how his self-hatred is being perpetrated on his son. He requires therapy to help him face his own feelings of anger and self-contempt. I see adults day in and day out in my psychotherapy practice who are scarred from being raised by a hateful parent.

If his behavior continues, Anxious Wife should think about protecting her son and leaving this marriage. Telling her son that her husband "really loves him" while being cruel to him sends a twisted message about what true love is all about.

— Dr. Melissa Klaskin

Dear Dr.: I agree. Thank you.

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