When my husband's ex-wife dropped off my stepson, 11, he told his father he needed to speak to him privately. I left the room so they could talk, with his mother present (shared custody) about "me."
I later learned he was upset that he was "barred from his home" previously, by me.
What happened: Our front door was open but the screen door was locked. We have a toddler who knows how to open the screen door unless it's locked.
My stepson decided, despite a clear view of me walking to the door, that he'd stick his hand through a small tear in the screen to unlatch the door to enter.
Meanwhile, I was asking him to wait, but his mother, standing behind him let him further tear the screen which now needs replacing.
After hearing my account, my husband called his ex and explained why the door was locked, and that his son was told to wait for me the 30-60 seconds.
His ex, because of abandonment issues and being locked out by her parents at the same age, thinks a wait is intolerable, while leaving the door unlocked for a toddler to get out, is acceptable. As a mother of two (another son, 18, from a previous marriage) I'm aghast at her thinking.
My husband cannot convince her my stepson wasn't locked out. What do I tell her the next time she complains about her son being "barred?"
Take the high road - you already know her issues so can show understanding. You also have a testing adolescent's feelings to consider.
Apologize to mother and son for their mistaken impression, even though you didn't mean this. You have years ahead of trying to build a relationship of trust and peace together, so don't let this one incident blow it apart.
If the mother feels your compassion for her past, she'll hopefully stop overreacting to you. Once she's less judgmental, the child - who's naturally torn in his loyalties - will relax more, too.
Explain the danger of his very young stepbrother opening the screen door when it's unlocked.
Warning: If the lad's constantly troubled, do NOT leave him alone with the youngster till he's more at ease. And tell his father to somehow convince his ex their son needs counseling help.
Our close friends are a terrific couple with whom we like to travel, as we get along so well.
However, their adult daughter who's divorced is difficult, opinionated, and quick to anger. Being in her company is exhausting as she's hyperactive and also dominates conversation.
We'd planned a trip to Florida for two weeks with this couple, but have just learned they've invited their daughter, who's struggling financially, to share the three-bedroom condo we rented (we'd originally agreed one bedroom would be an office/den for anyone to use privately, as needed).
How do we tell them we can't bear to share vacation time with their daughter without offending them?
It's delicate, but do-able. Be honest without being unkind. Say that you appreciate their desire to give their daughter a vacation, but you'd considered this time away for all of you,
to get away from responsibilities and relatives back home.
Say that if they're "stuck" with needing to help her at that time and in that way, you'd rather make other plans with them for another period. Or, you can rent a separate one-bedroom place for yourselves, and only get together when you feel up to it.
My friend is mid-20s and her on-off boyfriend has left her right after she told him she's pregnant. She's so depressed that she's frightening me. Also, he left her without any money; she can't afford her rent, and has nowhere to go. She sounds suicidal. What should I do?
Immediately provide her with the number of a Distress Call Centre in your area, and urge her to make that call. There are trained people who are experienced with such calls, who listen, encourage, and have instant referrals to helping resources. Also, try to contact any of her family or other support people, who might help her.
If there's no one available, follow up on the resources with her. There are women's shelters in many locales, which offer help with finding accommodation, jobs, medical care, and counselling. She can also seek help through her faith or ethnic community, if that's appropriate.
Tip of the day:
Shared child custody requires compromises and compassion whenever possible.