No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Posted on | August 2, 2015 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
There is a 14-year old girl in our neighborhood who has recently starting baby sitting for us.  In talking to her and her parents, I found out that neither she nor her parents have a computer at home and that she has to use the public computers at school and at the library.  Her parents claim that they don’t want their daughter tied to a computer all day and they think that books are all the educational tools you need.  I completely disagree and I think that the lack of a computer is a huge detriment to this poor girl’s education.  Would it be wrong for me to buy her a computer as a gift for baby sitting?  I really think that her parents are doing her a disservice and if I ask them about a computer they will say “no.”  But I don’t think they will make her give it back if I buy it.  What do you think?
21st Century Citizen

Dear 21:
Provide her with use of a computer when she is at your home and leave it at that for now.  Her parents are her parents and that status allows them to make these decisions whether you agree or not.

The Answer Is “No”

Posted on | July 26, 2015 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
When two adult couples go out to dinner together, is their a nice way to say that we don’t want to split the check 50/50 when we clearly spent far less than the other couple?  My husband and I don’t drink and we often split a single entree.  It doesn’t seem fair to split the check when we probably spent half of what the other couple spent.  But it’s always a bit awkward when people just throw down their credit card and say “let’s just split this.”

Dear Pinched:
We think that you “I’ll just have an appetizer” or “share the entree”  types should eat with one another and be sure to bring your calculators.  The rest of us don’t mind buying our friends a drink.


Posted on | July 26, 2015 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers
Over the past couple of years my parents have gotten more and more frail and require a lot of care and attention.  Fortunately, my 3 brothers and I all live fairly close by and can stop by every day if we needed to.  Unfortunately, my parents have decided that as the only girl, I should be the one they turn to.  If they need an emergency trip to the doctor or somebody to pick up their dry cleaning, they call me.  They never, never call my brothers.  I have asked them “nicely” to call Mike or Ryan or Clay but they always call me.  One time, my father said, “I can’t call them, they all have jobs.”  My father knows perfectly well that I have a job, too but I guess he doesn’t think that a woman’s job is ever as important as a man’s.  Should I just refuse the next time they call?  Or give up and realize that they are never going to change?
Tired Sis

Dear TS:
Your parents will never change.  But perhaps your brothers will agree to be deployed — talk to them.

Life Stage

Posted on | July 26, 2015 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
It seems like everybody who has kids these days has no time left in their lives for their friends.  Should I give up trying to engage with parents of young kids and just wait until the kids go to college before trying to have an “adult” get together again?  My idea of a fun night out is NOT sitting at home watching the baby crawl around the floor.

Dear DINK:
Tedious, we agree. But unless your friends are truly crazy they will come to their senses and get a sitter soon.  You could even suggest it.

Ground Rules

Posted on | July 26, 2015 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
Do you think that a Christian Conservative and a Liberal Democrat can have a happy marriage?
Friend of a Friend

Dear FOF:
Depends on what they think marriage is — if they agree on that, anything is possible

Mine Field

Posted on | July 23, 2015 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
I just met my son’s new girl friend and he wants to know what I think of her.  My honest reaction is that she is not smart enough, not pretty enough and not interesting enough to be dating my son.  But I don’t think that’s what he wants to hear.  Without totally lying, what’s the best response to his question?
Parent Problem

Dear PP:
It is unlikely that he wants to hear your dismissive response.  We advise asking him questions — why he cares about her, what they enjoy together, etc.  Your questions may help him find his own view which, after all, is the only one that really matters.

The Law of the Land

Posted on | July 23, 2015 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
When two men get married are they both “husbands” or is one the “husband” and one the “wife?”  I want to make sure I am being “politically” correct.

Dear KFM:
Both men are usually referred to as husbands. This isn’t about political correctness, it is about the law.

Rule for the Road

Posted on | July 12, 2015 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
What are the responsibilities of house guests on a holiday weekend? Or any weekend?
Tom T

Dear TT:
House guests should be entertaining, allow hosts a few hours of private time each day, and leave their room as they found it.  Yes, you should change the sheets — or at least offer.

Tiny Guests

Posted on | July 12, 2015 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
My house is a death trap for babies.  What precautions are my responsibility and what are properly the responsibility of parents?

Dear Nervous:
For family, put yourself out a bit.  Removable baby gates are very helpful for staircases.  In general, take sharp objects and anything you care about off coffee tables and feel free to tell the parents what to do with dirty diapers and what makes you uncomfortable.

Let It Be

Posted on | July 12, 2015 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
Any advice about multi-generational vacations?
Mom in the Middle

Dear MIM:
Cut yourself a lot of slack — and everyone else too. Remember that everyone made this choice with good intentions.  Free yourself of your usual standards — whatever they are. Paper plates are fine, grazing is fine, and sense of humor is essential. Oh yeah, and let go of all celluloid expectations.  The Waltons was a fantasy — not reality TV.

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