Dear Amy: My mother is a beloved member of our family. Everyone who meets her loves her instantly. Because mom is so great and such a fun person to be around, whenever I or one of my siblings travels with our families, we will often invite mom and pay her way so she can join us.
My father, who has no interest in coming along on these trips, has a problem with this arrangement. He says that we are being disrespectful and that we are treating mom like a glorified nanny, especially if we take her up on her offer to watch the kids one night so we can go to dinner with our spouses.
Mom comes on our trips no matter what dad says, but we never hear the end of his lectures about our inconsideration and disrespect.
He says that if we want mom to watch our children, then we should bring them to their house and go off on our own.
So I ask you, are we not treating mom properly? She doesn't seem to think there's a problem and neither do we, but I'd like to get your opinion.
— Wondering Daughter
Dear Daughter: You, your siblings and your mother have arrived at an arrangement that seems to work just fine for almost everyone.
Many families compensate grandparents for baby-sitting, and if this means these valued and valuable family members are "glorified nannies," then that simply demonstrates that there is "glory" to be had in warm and wonderful child care.
It should be obvious to you and your siblings that your father feels left out. If your mother is disappearing on several trips a year and he doesn't like it, then your parents should work it out between themselves. He should realize that his negative attitude makes him easier to leave, however.
It might throw him off his rant if you respond by saying, "Dad, I can tell this bothers you. We'd love to have you join us — and, of course, if you want for the kids to visit you, just name a time and we'll make it happen."
Dear Amy: When is a gift not a gift? Many years ago, a neighbor who was moving gave me several boxes of stuff she no longer wanted. Shortly before her departure, she brought over a wrapped birthday present for my daughter that turned out to be a porcelain doll.
I was stunned by her generosity and protested. She said that it had belonged to her daughter, but that she wanted my daughter to have it. She was adamant, so I graciously accepted.
After no contact from this woman for more than a decade, she recently wrote and asked for the doll back. She wants to give it to her granddaughter.
I was stunned. What should I do?
— Next Door Nightmare
Dear Nightmare: Even though the doll doesn't seem to have been your neighbor's property to give away in the first place (it belonged to her daughter), Judge Judy would tell you to keep it, and I love her for that.
But I have to ask you the obvious question: Now that your former neighbor has asked for it back, do you really want to keep it?
If your daughter treasures the doll, then respond to the neighbor by saying, "I'm sorry, but you gave this to my daughter as a gift and she has owned it for 10 years. I can't ask her to part with it."
If your daughter isn't attached to this item, and it's tucked away in a back closet, explain to her that your neighbor gave away a family possession and has now asked for it back to pass it along to her granddaughter. You can explain to your daughter how presumptuous this request is, then let the whole episode stand as a lesson in how not to behave.
Dear Amy: My former fiancee is driving a vehicle registered in my name, and she is constantly getting tickets for which I receive the notices.
What can I do, aside from taking the car away from her?
There is money owed on this car, and she makes the payments on time.
— Exasperated Ex
Dear Exasperated: It's a bad idea to basically turn over a car to someone without making it official. You don't mention how the car is insured; if your ex has an accident, it could land you in more financial trouble.
Sell the car to your ex. She's already driving it and paying for it, so get the title in her name. Then her tickets will be her problem.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun