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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Fears Burning Bridges in Day Care Exit Interview

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have decided to take our son out of the day care where he has been for the past six months. It's a small center, run by a woman, "Joni," who serves as director and lead teacher. She started the service two years ago and manages a staff of about 12.

Joni is the reason we are leaving. She seems incredibly stressed out all the time. She is curt with us when we talk and has been too harried to discuss our concerns over our boy's care. She appears to be more preoccupied with finances than the quality of care she is providing. One of our favorite teachers just quit, and she confided that it was because of the difficulty she had working with Joni.

Because we told Joni we are going, she has requested an "exit interview" to discuss what didn't work for us. I am hesitant about it. If we let her know the impact her stress is having on the quality of service she provides, she might be able to hire an administrator and make improvements. On the other hand, she may take offense.

Our community is small, so we will see her around, and because there are few child care centers, we may need to go back to this one someday. Should we be frank with her or let it go? -- MIDWEST MOM

DEAR MIDWEST MOM: Have the meeting with her. Be kind, calm and nonconfrontational, and do not tell her how to run her business. Explain that you are seeking other options for your son because she has been preoccupied and seems not to have enough time to address your parental concerns. Say you understand how complicated it is running a business even in the best of times, but as much as you like her, your first responsibility must be to your child. Period.