Dear Annie: Several years ago, my younger brother, "Ben," and his wife asked my husband and me to be the guardians of their new baby and any future children. They liked the way we were raising our own children and felt comfortable having us raise theirs if something were to happen to them. We happily agreed.
It is now eight years later, and I have two wonderful teenagers who soon will be leaving the nest. Ben's two children are ill-behaved, and we do not enjoy being around them. Their parents are very permissive, and as a result, the kids are bratty. I find that I enjoy the freedom that has come with our boys getting older, and neither my husband nor I want to take care of these young children if my brother and his wife were to pass away. I don't want to be parenting teenagers when I am 60.
Should I tell my brother I no longer want to be a guardian or just hope that nothing ever happens to them? I worry it would cause hard feelings with his wife because she doesn't get along with members of her own family, and I don't know who else they would ask. My husband thinks I should let it go because the chances of something tragic happening are slim.
What do you say?
- Soon-To-Be Empty Nester
Dear Soon: You should tell them. Simply say, "We have been honored to be your children's guardians, but we are not sure it's the best choice now. Our children are nearly grown, and we don't think we'd do such a great job raising youngsters anymore. You might want to ask someone else - if not a family member, perhaps a friend with children the same age." Of course, if they don't want to change guardians, please reconsider your objections. If the worst happens, those children will need someone like you.
Dear Annie: I've been married 10 years, have two wonderful children and love my husband very much. He is a good man.
However, he never compliments me. I am told often by other people how beautiful I am inside and out, and that I am in great shape, but I will never hear those sweet words from my husband.
I have asked him why he can't compliment me, and he doesn't respond. I often tell him how good he looks. I wish he would do the same.
- Tired of Waiting for Kind Words
Dear Tired: Some men simply don't know how to do this. You could help by adding some humor - next time you are dressed up, say emphatically, "My goodness, Mary, you look wonderful!" and then thank him for the sweet compliment. After a few of those, he may feel more comfortable saying the same words. But even if he doesn't, remember that actions speak louder. If he shows you he loves you, compliments are nice, but irrelevant. Don't invite resentment into your marriage.
Dear Annie: I just started reading your column because I only recently began receiving the newspaper. I feel compelled to respond to "Concerned Grandpa in Indy," whose grandchildren are encouraged to climb on the kitchen counters.
My two older children (ages 5 and 3) have been permitted to sit on my island countertop to "help" prepare meals. My husband and my mother warned me that someone was going to fall - and someone did.
My 3-year-old toppled backward off the counter. We are lucky she only broke her arm, but we spent six hours in the emergency room and had to return the next day for surgery.
All the pain and suffering my precious daughter experienced (not to mention the worry and a big fat hospital bill because we are uninsured) easily could have been prevented.
Indy Grandpa, please stick to your guns!
- Sarasota Mom
Dear Mom: We're glad your daughter is OK, and we appreciate the warning from someone who understands the problem. (And thank you, by the way, for subscribing to your local newspaper.)