Dear Annie: My 10-year-old's school administrators are over-the-top nosy and won't stay out of our business. I think they mean well, but at times, they try to micromanage the care of our child. For example, his favorite pair of shoes are falling apart, and although he has new shoes, he prefers the old ones. The school sent home a pair of shoes, as if we couldn't afford to buy any. It seemed insulting and passive-aggressive, and my son liked those shoes even less than the new ones we'd bought him. So that was a waste.
Also, our son recently had a cut that became infected. The school nurse spotted the beginning of the infection, so we are grateful for that, though we were watching it closely, too. We took him in immediately and began treatment. The school sent home notes about where we could take him in case we could not afford a doctor. (We can and have never implied that we don't have the means or insurance.) The administrators even sent instructions on how to give him a bath using Epsom salt for the wound. They know that we are both professionals with advanced degrees, yet they treat us like nimrods. — Capable With a Cub
Dear Capable: Unless the school addressed the note home to "Mr. and Mrs. Nimrod," you're jumping to conclusions. I guarantee that the administrators were just trying to help.
Your son really shouldn't wear shoes that are disintegrating — no matter what he "prefers." A 10-year-old might prefer to eat pizza rolls three meals a day and play Xbox all night; that doesn't mean you let him.
We make concessions where we can as parents, but some matters aren't up for debate. Make your son wear the new shoes, no matter how much whining follows. (I know, I know. Easier said than done.) Sometimes cubs need tough love.
Dear Annie: My brother-in-law keeps borrowing money, and my husband just can't say no to his big brother. This wouldn't be a problem if we were Rockefellers. We're not. We both work full time. We have kids of our own to put through school. We are barely scraping by and even have debt. We're just not in a position to lend money.
Larry, my brother-in-law, seems to have a new career every year. This year, he's trying to get his real estate license. Last year, he started an online store, which never took off. In the past, he's tried photography and painting.
It's hard to watch him fail, and I would feel sorry for him if I weren't so ticked off that he's flushed thousands of our dollars down the drain along with each of these new enterprises.
And now I find out that behind my back, my husband co-signed a loan, which his brother defaulted on, and we had to take out a second mortgage on the house to pay it. How can I get my husband to stop giving him money? How can I stop resenting both my brother-in-law and his wife for this? — Broke and Bitter
Dear Broke: You're right. He's wrong. But you probably married him because you fell in love with his generous disposition and his desire and willingness to help others in need — qualities at play here. Recognize that big heart of his while also telling him it's unacceptable to make such decisions behind your back. Tell him that his continuing to do so would be a betrayal of your trust.
Encourage him to support his brother in ways that have no bearing on your finances. He could help Larry work out a budget or set realistic career goals. In the long run, that kind of aid is better than simply handing him a check whenever he's in a pinch. Teach a man to fish.
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Photo credit: Lachlan Hardy