DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married for a few years. It is a second marriage for both of us. He has custody of his children, who are in high school.
He recently accepted a new job that has him working about 60 hours a week. I have agreed (willingly) to do everyday chores with the understanding that the kids pitch in. I do not work outside the home, so I like to help keep things orderly so he can come home at the end of the day to a clean and organized house. The kids are asked to do very little in the way of chores (i.e. do their laundry, take out the garbage, unload the dishwasher and walk the dog).
My husband now tells me he doesn’t care if the kids do their jobs and doesn’t want me reminding them, though the kids have no problem with the gentle reminders. I always thank them and tell them that their dad will be happy when he gets home from work.
What gives? I cannot let the kids think they have no rules or responsibilities. I refuse to do everything while the kids play video games.
Any advice I can give my husband? I suggest we sit down with the kids and discuss a good solution for all of us. He doesn’t seem to care. -- At My Wits’ End
DEAR WITS’ END: Your husband does not have full custody of these kids — you both do. He is gone almost every waking hour, so really, you have custody and (for now, anyway) he is passing through.
Understanding that you are (also) their parent might help clarify this issue. If you are the “project manager” of your household, then you should be making everyday decisions about its functioning. This includes how to divvy up the workload.
For kids, having vital functions at home gives them a real stake in the outcome, teaching them important life skills and also a respect for the hard work of housework. Otherwise, they become oozing lumps of flesh, permanently installed on the couch.
An analogy your husband might grasp is you coming into his workplace and letting the employees know that their functions aren’t really important and that the boss’s directives are really only suggestions.
A family meeting might help clear the air, but you also run the risk of your husband continuing to undermine you when he should be backing you up. Get on the same page before you two sit down with the kids.
DEAR AMY: Our son got married Sunday. Our flight got canceled due to a hurricane. The wedding was a small barbecue wedding at their home, and we asked them if they could postpone it. They said everything was set up already.
We said we would cover the cost to reschedule it. They decided to go ahead without us being there. Do you think this was the right decision? -- Inquiring Minds
DEAR INQUIRING: I assume that your flight cancellation was very last minute, giving the couple little time to reschedule a wedding that (though small) was something they had carefully planned. There might have been other close friends and family members who had also made heroic efforts to be there.
I can imagine your disappointment, but try to chalk this up to an unfortunate “act of God” and don’t hold it against the couple. They may end up regretting their choice, but it shouldn’t be because you are forcing the issue.
DEAR AMY: I have to disagree with your answer to “Feeling Guilty,” who kept a pair of sneakers he (accidentally) hadn’t paid for.
While I agree it’s not right to keep the shoes, the time to address it was at the time of purchase, thereby giving the clerk an opportunity to correct it immediately.
Going back later only puts the clerk on the spot with his or her boss, compounding an unethical situation. Better they should donate the shoes. Someone out there can surely use them, and no problems will come to the cashier, who apparently simply made an error. -- Matt
DEAR MATT: Donating ill-gotten gains does not absolve the person from keeping something he had not paid for.