Ask Amy: Future family visit fuels some fears

Dear Amy: I have a lot of hesitation about a visit by my brother and sister-in-law this summer.

They live out of state and last visited us two years ago. That visit did not go well.

My brother made a lot of negative comments about my family and our lifestyles, including how we live and where we live.

During our communication through phone calls over the years, I never really realized the negative downside of him.

I have visited him several times during the last 10 to 15 years at his home (to welcome babies) and those visits went fairly well.

During his visit with us, his attitude, comments and conversations reminded me of our father from years ago – and that is not a good thing.

He has offered to stay at a hotel, but do you have thoughts or suggestions on how I can have him stay at our home and have it maybe go better than the last visit?

We have a very small family. We want to have a good and positive relationship, but I’m not sure if that will work out.

Your advice?

– Worried Sibling

Dear Worried: You seem to want your brother and his wife to stay with you in your home, but his complaints during their last visit seemed fairly global and quite personal.

You ask for suggestions on how things could go better this time, and the answer would be for your brother to behave differently.

Is this likely? You shouldn’t count on it.

In some cases, it can be easier on relationships all the way around if longer-term guests stay elsewhere (at a hotel or short-term rental house) during a visit.

You could address this with your brother by responding: “If you would feel more comfortable at a hotel, there are several nearby; I’m happy to send links for you to make a choice. Whatever works best for you is fine with us. We’ve always had a good time staying with you and want to reciprocate, but I don’t think you were comfortable in our home the last time you visited.”

I think you should approach this visit with a hopeful attitude, but you should also consider and strategize about how you will respond if your brother insults you personally when he is with you.

Dear Amy: I care for my 15-month-old granddaughter on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. until noon. I am not compensated and am very happy to do this. Both parents work – mainly from home.

What’s become an issue is my son and daughter-in-law’s insistence that I not allow my granddaughter to nap during my morning shifts. Instead, they prefer that nap time be reserved for the afternoons so they can focus on their jobs.

The little girl has a tendency to fall asleep for a brief 20 to 30 minutes mid-morning. This takes the edge off her afternoon nap which can be as long as two to three hours if she doesn’t nap in the morning.

I see sleep deprivation as a form of child abuse and my son and daughter-in-law’s demands to be somewhat selfish. If I call them out on this, I fear there will be retribution in the form of reduced contact with my granddaughter over something that is a minor inconvenience for the young parents.

What do you think I should do?

– Concerned Grandparent

Dear Concerned: You raised your son. You are now helping to raise his child.

Babies this age normally take two naps a day. Having a rested baby is better than an exhausted and fussy baby, and rested babies tend to sleep better than exhausted babies.

These parents need to trust your judgment. I suggest that you carry on, letting the child sleep when she needs to, and if the parents confront you about it, you should tell them that you believe it is better for their baby if she is allowed to follow her body’s need to nap briefly in the morning.

If they have a problem letting you follow this commonsense and compassionate practice and want to “fire” you over it, let them find and compensate another caregiver, who might be less personally invested in the baby’s well-being.

Dear Amy: I’m responding to your recent quip “…i f you don’t think that our higher power has a sense of humor, I suggest you take a good, long look around.”

It has always been my opinion that any God who could create a camel had to have a sense of humor.

– Rabbi Yaakov Lavon

Dear Rabbi Lavon: Amen!