Advice From Denver Life

Grandparents too lenient with the kids? Heres what to do. (And other advice.)

 

Illustration by Ingo Fast

We’re entering Daisy Duke/tank top season, and my wife likes to wear both items of clothing—the skimpier, the better. I love her, but frankly she doesn’t have the figure for this anymore. Is there a tactful way to tell her? —Dan, Aurora 

This one’s a toughie. If you had said, “My wife wears Daisy Dukes and tank tops, and it annoys me when other guys check her out,” we would have told you to pull up your big-boy pants, button your lip, and appreciate that your wife has a fun way of expressing herself. Alternatively, if you had said that your wife always asks, “Does this make me look fat?” we would have had lots of advice on ways to make her feel more confident and self-assured. But you have the opposite problem. Essentially, you have to somehow convey to her (without her asking!) that, yes, honey, that outfit does make you look fat. And that’s not easy. Here is what we’d suggest: Rather than stealthily burning all of her “mutton dressed as lamb” outfits or telling her what she shouldn’t wear, tell her what you like to see her in. If she likes the casual comfort of the DDs and TTs, suggest a pretty, loose sundress, a cute (but modest—not super-short) romper, or a pair of white jeans with a nautical striped tee. Maybe even go shopping with her, steering her toward clothes that are fun but more “age appropriate.” If she actually asks about the Daisy Dukes, that’s the time to say, “Honey, I love you and want you to look your best—but the Daisys should be left to the twenty-somethings.”

Three friends and I have started carpooling to work to save on gas and help the environment. Any suggestions on how to handle divvying up expenses? —Laura, Pueblo

There are three factors to consider: labor for driving, cost of gas, and possible tolls. If there are no tolls, eliminate that factor; and if the three of you split the driving evenly, each of you driving every third day, you can eliminate the other factors, too. If, though, one of you is doing all the driving, or a bigger share, you need to figure out how to compensate that person for both gas and wear-and-tear on her car. The cleanest way to do this is a.) agree on an average gas price; b.) calculate the roundtrip mileage per day to work and the miles per gallon the car is getting; and c.) using those figures, determine a gas cost per week. If it’s, say, $24, you should each pay $8 toward gas. As for wear on a car, decide on a fair dollar amount per day, per car. Say it’s $1; if one person drives all five days, he or she would receive $5 on top of the gas payments. Most important, come up with a formula up front and stick with it; don’t assume that you can figure it out later or that everything will balance out. That will inevitably lead to resentment. As for what radio station you all listen to, you’re on your own.

My parents love their grandkids, but they’re too lenient with them, laughing off our rules about sweets and screen time. How can we get them to follow our guidelines? —Kate, Morrison

First of all, remember that you are the luckiest parents in the world to be sandwiched between two generations that love each other so much. Your parents could be aloof, judgmental, or cranky with your kids—and that would be a true nightmare. What you are dealing with is much more benign (if annoying). So remind yourself that you and your parents both love your kids and, most important, want what’s best for them. (That last part is key.) Sit down with your folks (when the kids are not around) and, rather than being accusatory (“Stop letting Emily watch so much TV!”), ask for their help. We’d suggest something like this: “Mom and Dad, we are so appreciative of all you do for little Emily—and she is thriving. But we are worried because she a.) is having trouble getting to sleep at night after watching too much TV, b.) had a recent bad checkup at the dentist’s, or c.) seems to have a shorter attention span. What do you think we could do together to help her out?” In other words: Think teamwork. When you emphasize to your parents that you are batting for the same side, they should come around. If not, well, you may have to give them a timeout.

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