Dear Alma,

I’m not sure how to handle this problem. My sister in-law is a pastor of the church we, and our family attend. I often confide in her because we’re friends and she’s easy to talk to. She always gives me sound advice and I appreciate that. But the problem is, she’s always using my business in her sermons, and I don’t like that. What should I do?

You’re email made this PK chuckle. My father, Reverend Ulysses Martin, was a Baptist preacher for more than 30 years. When it came to his sermons, he knew that we were off limits under any and all circumstances; my mother made that clear. I mentioned this to let you know that I have some familiarity with your circumstances.  I’ll start by telling the truth and shaming the devil. LOL. My first reaction was, whaaaat? Ohnoshedient! But since we’re talking about a minister, I should ease up and give her the benefit of the doubt.  Is there a possibility that she sees your discussions as casual conversations? She may not know she’s offending you. Where do these discussions take place? Are you at church in the pastor’s study or driving in the car to the mall?  Depending on where you are would explain how she comprehends what’s said. Ok, I know I’m stretching it, but stay with me for a minute.

She could easily be having a conversation with her SIL, while you’re having a conversation with your pastor. The roles need to be established. Either way, you’re entitled to your privacy, and you should not be exposed to “shout-outs” from the pulpit.  It’s time to nip this and bring your concerns to her attention. Don’t do it during the sermon, girl, while you’re sitting with the congregation. LOL!

Here’s what you do: The next time yawl are caring and sharing, ask her specifically not to use your situation in her “say no to sins” parable. Tell her you expect her to keep your conversations confidential. Don’t tiptoe thru this prickly conversation, be firm, she should understand exactly where you’re coming from.  After your discussion, if things don’t change, I’d suggest you seek new pastoral counsel.

Dear Alma,

We were at my niece’s 5th birthday party. I’m pregnant and it has not been easy. My MIL arrives and starts greeting everybody. Then she asks how” baby Orlando” is doing. I didn’t answer her because we have not picked out a name for our baby.  She started calling my unborn son by her father’s name about a month ago. This time, I had decided enough was enough, and I was no longer going to let her call him by a name that wasn’t his. I snapped and told her that wasn’t his name and we would let her know when we had one. Then I left the room before I said something I would really regret. I know that the tone of voice I used was not the best, but I still can’t get over what happened next. My MIL left. She didn’t say goodbye to anyone, she just got in her car and left.  She made me feel guilty for the rest of the party.  Was it anything I could have done better, or can I just chalk the whole situation up to my MIL’s a control freak?

Ahhh, maybe something else happened that you failed to mention, because from what I’ve read of your email Miss Do Right - you did wrong.

Ok, so your MIL has pre named her grandbaby, so what. It’s just a nickname and all in fun I’m sure.  Why are you so mad about that?  You and your husband will have the final say. We’ve got hungry children in Africa and this has you all tied in a knot.

TBT, you delivered a stinger Mz. Mommie to Bee!  You insulted your MIL at the party in front of everybody for no good reason.  She didn’t make you feel guilty, that was your conscious, trying to have a conversation with you but you weren’t listening.

Call your MIL and apologize, now.  Let her know your hormones have been all over the place lately. Ask her over for tea, out to lunch, shopping or whatever.

Fix this! Before baby boy is born.  There’s too much joy ahead for you and your family, to let this foolishness block your blessings.

Alma Gill
Alma Gill

Email questions to: alwaysaskalma@gmail.com; follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and Twitter @almaaskalma.