Readers! Here’s an advice column that had me reaching for the scotch. And I don’t even drink:
Dear Amy: My husband and I adore our grandson, who is a toddler. We watch him at our house overnight two times a month while his parents attend art classes.
Now that he is getting older, my daughter would like to start leaving him for longer stays — the most recent request is three nights/five days so they can attend a class out of state.
When our grandson was born, his parents created a list of rules regarding his care. I understood why they would want to do this.
One of the rules is that there is zero tolerance for drinking any alcohol by the primary caregiver (me).
My husband and I enjoy drinking wine every night. When my daughter and her brother were growing up, her dad and I always had wine with our meals.
I don’t mind giving up wine on an occasional evening, but as they start to ask us to care for our grandson for longer periods, I’m wondering if the no-tolerance rule is still an appropriate expectation.
We are responsible drinkers who enjoy wine. But are we pitting the safety of our grandson against our wine consumption? Are we being selfish, and could we possibly be accused of having a drinking problem by making an issue of this with our daughter and son-in-law?
Is responsibly drinking wine in one’s home mutually exclusive to being able to responsibly care for a child?
Dear WL: I support the “zero tolerance” policy of these parents. Even one glass of wine can affect your response time and sleep habits.
Speak with your daughter, and go over her list of expectations. You should ask her to negotiate a solution — the most obvious being that you and your husband trade off who is the primary caregiver in the evenings. This person will enjoy a glass of apple juice with dinner.
If you are afraid your daughter will bring up your drinking, then you do have problem. At the very least, your drinking is causing a problem with her, and you should be brave enough to address it.
Hey Amy! How about being brave enough to address the over-the-top fears many of today’s parents are indulging in? They’re a lot more damaging than a glass of Chardonnay.
These grandfolks are not running around the table, chasing each other with electric knives. They sound like normal, civilized people. If they’re irresponsible, so is all of France. The idea that they have to change their behavior because their grown daughter wants them to be even MORE perfect — or what she considers perfect — is not something to encourage. Should she insist they only discuss pre-approved topics, too, and play no music composed after 1783? (Maybe she did, in her list.)
If the grandparents are actual alcoholics, then that’s another story and I doubt the mom would even consider leaving her kid with them. Since that doesn’t seem to be the case, I think the grandmother here is being extremely obliging. She’s not only giving her time, she’s shutting up about the rest of the rules her daughter has issued.
Daughter, hon, how about Universal Rule #1? “Be grateful for free babysitting.” — Lenore