My niece, 22, and nephew, 21, have always been spoiled by their parents and also won’t hesitate to impose on others.
Both are lazy, have never worked, have no goals or ambitions.
My niece will soon be doing two weeks of co-op teaching at a school within walking distance of my home.
The school’s easily accessible by public transit. My brother’s unable to chauffeur her to and from the school as he already drives my nephew to his place of employment.
He and his wife have told me that my niece will be staying with me so that she can walk to the school. A previous time when they imposed on me, I had to pick up after my niece, cook, and cater to her needs.
I work full-time myself and am not looking forward to her stay.
My brother and his wife can be very cruel. I dread what repercussions will happen to me should I refuse to welcome my niece.
I’d just moved from elsewhere and gave my brother my washer and dryer to replace his, which were old.
Shortly after, I asked if I could use his washer and dryer to do laundry, as the machines in my building were out of order. He refused.
I’m stressing myself out and shouldn’t be, as I’m nearing retirement.
I’ve raised my own sons and have no intention of baby-sitting for others.
You have two choices: One seems the most logical – just say No.
You have your own place, your work, and your own sons. It’d seem you don’t need to depend on your brother, but have been conditioned by him to feel you do.
The other choice is to look closer at the details: Your niece is actually involved in some teaching program; your nephew now does have a job.
So perhaps there’s hope for them, and you can get to know your niece better and be a positive influence for two weeks, by discussing her goals and how she’ll become independent.
However, you must set limits and explain that they’re normal good manners expected of adults, especially if they’re being helped:
She must clean up after herself, and help with cooking dinner. If she skips school, or worries you with staying out late, she must move back home.
FEEDBACK Regarding the mother whose husband insists he’s better at putting their daughter, five, to bed without her crying (Feb. 3):
Reader #1 – “There’s a difference between fear and love. My ex-husband, father to my children, was emotionally abusive.
“The kids behaved for him because they were afraid of him. This child may cry because she's afraid of him, of his reactions.
“Also, his "humiliating” the mother in front of the child shows something is wrong in both the marriage and the parenting.
“I hope she finds the strength to talk to him about this. Counselling may help.”
Reader #2 – “I’d be wary of why the child is crying and he’s insisting on putting her to bed.
“There may be something much more going on there. It's crucial for the mother to ensure that there’s no inappropriate behaviour initiated by her husband during the evenings /nights. Perhaps best to suggest a hidden camera in a lamp. A child therapist may get to the bottom of this even sooner.”
Ellie – Some people saw darker elements in this situation and I respect their view. If this mother has any instinct that there’s “more going on,” I urge her to talk to a counsellor and investigate further, involving police if necessary.
Reader #3 –– “This mother’s solo-parenting her child during the week, and is probably exhausted. Then her husband comes home on the weekend and blames/humiliates her for the child’s crying.
“She’s 100% not responsible for the horrible things her husband says to her.”
Reader #4 – “Yes, the mom should be open to help from the dad, but that's not the root of their problems.
“Five-year-olds sometimes cry. His asking, “Why do you always make her cry?” isn't being supportive. He’s undermining her confidence.
“He should be asking what could they do about that together.
“Just letting him put the child to bed won’t solve the problem. He’ll move on to something else to be critical about.
“She should have a serious conversation with him about how they need to support each other in their parenting efforts.
“If things don’t improve, she should get counselling to help consider her options.”
Tip of the day:
A relative can sometimes have an important influence on young people who need better direction.