Dear Amy: My husband and I have a special-needs teenage son. After more than a year on a wait list, we finally have an in-home therapist. “Darla” comes three mornings a week to wake him up and help him to get dressed and ready for school. This gives me rare and much-needed breaks.
My husband, who works from home, lets Darla into our home. I usually stay in my room and either sleep in or just enjoy the quiet until it is time for me to take my son to school. Darla doesn’t see all that I do when she isn’t there.
I’ve picked up hints that she thinks I’m lazy and that my poor husband is put upon. (He doesn’t feel that way.) She also seems to have a crush on my husband and finds excuses to chat with him. It drives him crazy, because he’s trying to work.
I sent Darla a text asking her not to disturb him unless absolutely necessary. She didn’t respond to the text, but she did stop interrupting him as much. Recently, after I let her in one morning, she told my son that he was slacking because his mother got up before he did. I didn’t say anything to this backhanded comment, but I’m fuming!
Darla is good with my son, and if I fired her it would take months to find a replacement. How can I keep her on, but put her attitude in check?
— Curious Mom
Mom: Your concerns are related to boundaries and communication. “Darla” might have come to your home from working with other clients who have a different living and communication style.
If she is good with your son, then that positive dynamic should be your primary concern. It is important that you keep this in mind as you course-correct and adjust to one another.
First to her comment to your son that he was “slacking” because you were up before him. To me, this seems like a lighthearted comment that, depending on the dynamic and your son's abilities, could easily be seen as a joking nudge, establishing a rapport with him.
You should examine if you have taken this entirely the wrong way, triggered by your other annoyances. However, if this sort of comment would cause your son to feel bad, or be anxious, then you should correct Darla about matters having to do with tone.
You and your husband should sit down with her. Start with positive feedback regarding the work she is there to do. Review some basics regarding the household. Your husband should make clear that his workday has already begun when she arrives in the morning: “So, after I’ve let you in, I’ve got to get right to my work. It’s best if I’m not interrupted, unless it’s important.”
And hints that you're lazy? Unless these are openly expressed, I sincerely suggest that you stop caring.
Dear Amy: I am wondering what to say to an elderly relative who becomes so high on their pain medication that their speech is slurring, yet they still want to hold my baby.
It is unclear if they know how intoxicated they are, yet they often admit (after the fact) how they “overdo” their medication to handle seeing family — otherwise their pain will prevent them from getting out of the house to see family.
My question is how do we politely say “no” to holding the baby, or do we just have to hover very closely while the baby is held until the baby grows out of the holding stage? Is there another option?
— No Hurt Feelings
No Hurt: Your elderly relative has already admitted to “overdoing” pain medication to manage getting out of the house. This is concerning, and my suggestion is that whatever family member has the closest caretaking relationship with this relative should be informed and encouraged to review the medication and dosage choices with the physician.
In the moment, you can respond: “You seem shaky today and the baby might get squirmy, so I'm going to sit right beside you and hold the baby, myself.”
Dear Amy: “Underappreciated” wrote about his grandfather’s favoritism toward his accomplished and athletic cousins, one of whom was attending an Ivy League school “on scholarship for football.”
Ivy League schools do not offer athletic scholarships.
— Alert Reader
Reader: Many readers noticed this. Even though this error was not central to the issue presented by “Underappreciated,” I thank you all for the correction.
© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.