DEAR AMY: My husband and I are raising my husband’s nephew, who is 15. He has lied to us many, many times and often completely disregards the rules that have been established in our house. This past weekend my husband and I were gone for the evening and he was supposed to stay at home, but when my husband and I came home at midnight, he was not home. I was very angry and upset when he did get home because we didn’t know where he was, and because he completely ignored what he had been told to do. I told him he was grounded. Now my husband says I overreacted and that it’s crazy for me not to expect him to disobey the rules sometimes. He ignores the rules lots of times and I feel when he ignores them there should be consequences. Am I crazy?
DEAR WORRIED: I’m with you. You don’t say if you have other children, but if your nephew landed with you, it seems possible that he has already had a tough life. You need to take his circumstances into account, pick your battles and work together to get this kid across the finish line.
He will break the rules — all teens do — but all of this will be made worse if you and your husband don’t agree on consequences. Teens have a way of falling through any parenting gap.
Leaving the house is serious. This is a safety issue. Reasonable consequences might help him to see that, and to act differently in the future.
DEAR AMY: My nephew is recently engaged, and he and his fiancee are starting to discuss wedding plans. The bride and her family have no money for a reception. My brother and sister-in-law would like to help, but they feel like they should have a say in the planning, if they are underwriting the party. They are not wealthy. The bride would like a ceremony on the beach, but it is impractical for many reasons, including distance to travel and guests with disabilities. The bride is also developing a list of guests without consulting about the numbers. My brother and sister-in-law would like to be included when the engaged couple look at reception venues, menus, etc. Are they wrong to want to be a part of the planning? Is there a tactful and helpful way to address these issues? I would like to offer advice to my brother when he talks to me about the situation.
A Loving Sister and Aunt
DEAR SISTER: There is no one way to do this. I can understand anyone who is footing the bill for an expensive celebration wanting and expecting to play a large role in the planning process, but the downside of this is the tension of wrestling with a young couple for control of a day they see as theirs.
My favored way of handling this was proposed by a family member of a friend of mine, who said, “Here is a sum of money I’m giving as a gift to celebrate your marriage. You can either use it for a down payment on a home or spend it on a party. It’s up to you.”
Whatever your brother and sister-in-law choose to do, they should meet with the couple (not just their son) and communicate extremely clearly and respectfully about the terms attached to this gift, and their expectations moving forward.
DEAR AMY: I appreciated your answer to “Disappointed.” Disappointed was a wife whose husband routinely ignored her expertise regarding computer and internet issues, while immediately trusting a male source on these very same questions. Your writer wasn’t “spousehacked.” She got “hepeated.” Look it up!
DEAR READER: I did look it up, and here’s what the internet tells me about “hepeating.” This comes from astronomer and professor Nicole Gugliucci, who tweeted the word’s definition and how to use it.
Here’s Gugliucci’s tweet: “My friends coined a word: hepeated. For when a woman suggests an idea and it’s ignored, but then a guy says same thing and everyone loves it.”
At the risk of “shepeating,” I was trying very hard not to label this as a gender-specific behavior, but as a respect issue between spouses. In short, I’ve seen women do this, too.
Because this involved cyber issues, I thought I’d try to be clever and note that the wife’s thoughts had been ignored, then appropriated — thus “hacked.”