Granny is too busy to baby-sit

For Release 02/10/2020

Q. I have a 4-year-old son and am expecting another child in a few months.

I started my own business a few years ago, and my husband works full time. My son is in day care three days a week (we can’t afford more care right now). I asked Mom if she would commit to helping me care for my son on one of the days when he is not in day care. (My in-laws also help out.)

She balked at the suggestion and actually started yelling at me about it. She works as a sometime-realtor, but makes herself very busy with women’s groups and volunteer work. She often offers to watch my son at the last-minute when it’s convenient for her, but refuses to make a schedule to give me much-needed (begged for) help.


She makes me feel selfish for asking, but I really need the help to grow my business and support my family. I get upset that she doesn’t “want” to help me when she spends so much time doing things that to me aren’t as important as helping her family. She constantly calls me to tell me how “busy” she is, but it’s with things that are completely voluntary, and meanwhile I’m drowning. She loves my son and he’s an easy, calm child, and my mom is in great health.

I realize she has her own life, but I can’t see why she won’t just agree to one day or even a half-day a week, when she often helps my sister (a stay-at-home mom with three kids).


A. You obviously value your time and energy more than your mother’s. And guess what? She has needs, too.

Why should your mother help you to grow your business on your schedule, when she has her own business to tend to? As a realtor, she may have to show properties on a varied schedule, which could conflict with a regular baby-sitting commitment.


You seem to believe that your mother owes you regular child care. She does not. I’m taking it as a given that she already provided you with many years of child care — when you were a child and up to the time you left home. Your mother seems to spend plenty of time with her various grandchildren. You have only one household to tend to, while her commitments are not only to you, but to your siblings and their families, as well.

Perhaps you should enroll your son in a daily pre-school program. Or maybe you and your sister could trade child care for each other (you take her kids one day and she takes your son one day). This would yield you one more workday each week.

When you make a request and keep hearing the same answer, you should either stop asking or ask a different question.

Q. My friend’s husband asked me what my new son-in-law’s profession is. When I described his job at a nonprofit, this buffoon said, “Oh, not a doctor or a lawyer...?” and laughed. I was speechless and cannot look at this man without a feeling of disgust and an inner eye roll.

What response should I have given?


A. I diagnose this comment as a dim-witted attempt at humor, disguised as social commentary, delivered with a thud. It’s quite possible that this man was commenting on the fact that many in-laws are overly proud (and only proud) of their doctor/lawyer connections. Maybe not.


It’s OK not to know how to respond to someone when you feel blindsided. (Most of my witty comebacks occur to me when it’s way too late to deliver them.) Just know that the person who delivers a dud is the one who ultimately seems like a dud.

Your only job is to get over it.

Q. Kindly leave your political opinions to yourself. Your reply to “SDJ in the Northeast” is yet another example that you don’t know what you are talking about.

Many, many people in this country support the current president. We don’t need your liberal blathering to know that we are right.


A. “SDJ” wondered if she should stay with her Trump-supporting boyfriend, who she said was wonderful in all respects. I said that she should stay with her wonderful boyfriend, and also examine her own closed-mindedness.

I consistently advocate for communication and compassion and against the use of incendiary language (much of which is unfortunately generated by our current president, who — you must agree — sets a terrible example in this respect).

Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@amydickinson.com.