Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married for 10 years and have two children, ages 5 and 3. My wife is professionally ambitious and has built an impressive career for herself at a major accounting firm. I am a technology entrepreneur and have been focused on building my company for the past four years. The new company has been steadily growing and is now profitable.
Prior to our having children, there were never any issues with our having two demanding careers. Once we had children, we hired a fantastic nanny, who has been with us for all five years, and our children adore her. However, both my wife and I notice that our children look to our nanny as the stronger maternal figure in their lives. This has given my wife anxiety and has created stress in our relationship, as she now spends her free time with the children and neglecting our relationship.
Now that my company is established, I've been encouraging my wife to leave her career and stay home to be with the kids. Once our youngest child is in school full time, she could take a part-time opportunity or begin volunteering or maybe even work in accounting at my company from home. But she does not want to give up her career and lose her professional identity. This is adding to the stress in our relationship and, I fear, creating a more challenging home environment for everyone. What am I to do? — Neglected Entrepreneur
Dear Neglected: You and your wife are in a partnership, and it's a two-way street. Respect and empathy need to move in both directions. Your wife has a successful career and professional identity, as do you. Why would it be fair for your wife to sacrifice her career for yours? You need to speak with her about her goals and desires and also discuss yours. Then you can mutually craft a strategy that will allow you both to feel happy while optimizing family time. Remember: An unhappy wife leads to an unhappy life. You want to be considerate of her wishes and desires. Your wife and children will thank you.
Dear Annie: As we get into the swing of the new school year, my question involves teachers thanking students for end-of-year gifts.
Ever since my children were little, they've enjoyed buying a special gift for their teacher at the end of the school year. I know that teachers stress the importance of good manners to their classes and appreciate a well-mannered child. The reason I'm writing to you is that I would like to know why most teachers do not take the time to write thank-you notes to children for special gifts.
Because of the many things that take place on the last day of school, I understand that most teachers do not or cannot take the time to open every gift they receive and that they therefore cannot thank the child on that day. But they certainly can respond when school is through for the year. Over the past nine years, only one or two teachers have written thank-you notes. It takes only a minute or two to do. Imagine the look of satisfaction when my child read the note from the teacher expressing her appreciation and thanks for the gift. In all the other instances, when no thank-you arrives, my kids have wondered whether the teachers liked their gifts.
Why don't teachers show students the same common courtesy they expect from them? I'd like to hear from teachers everywhere. — Perplexed in Ohio
Dear Perplexed: To be fair, teachers already bring a lot of work home with them. Though they intend to send thank-yous, that item may continually get moved down on their to-do lists when there are tests to grade and rubrics to write. But you're absolutely right. They should take the time to express their thanks to students. It's a "teachable moment" in gratitude and courtesy.
I'm printing your letter as a reminder to us all of the importance of the thank-you note. It's a little card that sends a big message.
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Photo credit: Tzuhsun Hsu