DEAR AMY: I come from a large, opinionated family and we have a history of sibling rivalry and arguing, which is finally starting to subside as we start our own families. We also have a faith-based background, so we also realize now that peace can’t come from arguing. That said, I have one older, unmarried sibling who is constantly trying to give me parenting advice for my toddler, who occasionally throws tantrums and skips naps and acts like ... a toddler. Our parents’ discipline method mostly involved spankings, a method I try to avoid. My sister doesn’t understand this and always chides me for “giving in” and not being more forceful (yelling and spankings). I’m running out of patience and reasonable responses to her, but I don’t want to “tell her what I really think” because she will be hurt, and it will foster the arguing atmosphere we grew up with. Any suggestions?
DEAR SIS: If you can’t tell your sister what you really think without fear of arguing, then ask yourself: what is she doing? She is sharing her point of view. Did the sky fall? No. You found it intrusive, but perhaps you should assume that your relationship with her can survive this episode, and others where she shares her opinion.
This is a very common issue, especially with people who don’t have children and yet have a point of view about how children should be treated when they are out of control. I heartily agree with you that you should not spank a child.
A toddler who is in the middle of a tantrum is not in any position to understand the connection between her own behavior and a harsh punishment. The parent should respond with compassion: “I know you’re upset right now, and I’m waiting for you to settle down.” When the child settles, the parent can review the behavior and deliver consequences, i.e. a very short timeout where the child sits quietly.
When your sister weighs in, say to her, “I am trying to raise your niece differently than we were raised. You obviously disagree, and I understand that, but I’m using my best judgment here and I would appreciate your support. I’m the parent, and this is the choice I’m making.”
DEAR AMY: While in high school I got an internship at our local Chamber of Commerce. After the internship was complete they hired me. During my senior year, I had only two high school classes, so I would work in the morning, go to school for the two classes, then to another job till 9 p.m. and then another till 2 a.m. My boss, being understaffed, pressured me not to go to my classes. I went to school, anyway. After a few months of doing this I felt overwhelmed and annoyed that they continued to try to get me to cut class, and I resigned my position. This was eight years ago. My position with them looks amazing on a resume, but after my last job I was mortified that my old boss told my new one that I would leave early and miss shifts. Now I’m looking for another job and would like to use them on my resume, but I’m worried they will say the same thing if called upon. Amy, I worked really hard for a 17-year-old with such a prestigious and overwhelming position, but how should I handle this situation? Should I call and ask to speak to the director and tell her I remember things playing out a bit differently, or should I omit them from my resume altogether?
DEAR WONDERING: You should include this important job experience on your resume. After all of these years, you should assume that your high school employers should do little more than verify your employment.
You sound like a very hard worker. All of your job experiences build one upon the other, and it is a given that you handle job responsibilities differently in your mid-20s than you did as a high school student.
Dear Amy: Responding to “Had it Sibling,” who was frustrated at the toll it was taking on her parents to visit her brother and take care of the children (while sleeping on the couch), this ungrateful brother doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo that when older visitors come to stay with you, they should get the main bedroom. The brother should be sleeping on the couch.
DEAR HOSPITABLE: I completely agree.