Ask Amy: This baby sitter is acting like a baby

June 10, 2012

DEAR AMY: I am in my 30s and have a 5-year-old child.

I have been fortunate not to need day care as both of my child’s grandmothers have helped while I am at work. I work three days a week. My mother watches my child one day and my mother-in-law the other two days. Because they each help during the week, I feel guilty asking for extra baby-sitting if something comes up on the weekend.

My aunt (my mother’s sister) is more than willing to take my child on overnights. We do this maybe three to four times a year. My child loves spending time with her and my uncle, and they love having her. Unfortunately my mother has been fighting with my aunt for years. She doesn’t want me to have a relationship with her and definitely doesn’t want my child to spend time with her.

The thing is, although my mom says she would watch my child extra, I know she really doesn’t want to. She constantly reminds me that she works full time and doesn’t have a lot of free time to herself. She really makes me feel guilty. If she finds out my aunt has baby-sat, she is nasty to me and will stop speaking to me for a time. I have decided to not have her watch my child at all because of this. I really hate to have it be like this between us. I don’t want to pick between my mom and my aunt. Do you have any advice for me? -- Upset Mom

DEAR UPSET: Do you have an independent relationship with these family members that does not involve asking them to baby-sit? I hope so.

Has it occurred to you to pay a qualified nonfamily member to watch your child? I hope so.

If your mother works full time and has also been watching your child one day a week, I can understand why she is wrung out. If you haven’t already, you should let her off the hook (permanently) in terms of being a regular sitter.

However, your mother does not get to dictate whom your child spends time with. She should not punish you for having a relationship with your aunt and uncle (or anyone). Don’t budge on this. She will have to adjust to something she doesn’t like.

This toxicity and family tension are not good for any of you. Be calm, firm and loving with your mother, and never involve your child in any tug of war.

DEAR AMY: My wife and I are members of a resort community where golfing fees at an adjacent public course have recently become included in our yearly dues.

When couples stay with us this summer and want to play golf, we feel it might become awkward when they are asked to pay to play each time while it appears that we are playing for free (obviously we have already paid up front).

We don’t want to act like poor hosts. Should we subsidize our guests’ golfing? -- Happy Duffer

DEAR DUFFER: You’ve already paid for a season’s pass. I can’t imagine anyone would assume that you were playing for free at a golf course that charges everyone for fees.

If you want to be extra generous, you could treat your guests to rounds of golf while they are staying with you, but it’s not required. You would not be thought stingy if you didn’t treat.

DEAR AMY: I am a single, 45-year-old man and though I’m not a dedicated reader of your column, I do glance at it from time to time.

The reason that I am writing you is because of your response to “New Mom.” She wrote to you because her 5-year-old son was acting up now that there was a new baby in the house.

Your response made so much sense to me that it brought tears to my eyes. I hope that many new mothers and fathers heed your advice. -- Dave

DEAR DAVE: Thank you. I appreciate it very much. The nut of my advice was to cut the little guy a break, while loving him abundantly. This works in all sorts of situations.

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

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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