DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a dilemma with my husband about how to have our children refer to the woman who cleans our house. I believe "housekeeper" is a polite term for what she does. My husband, however, says "cleaning lady" is the description of her job. I would feel bad if she heard my children calling her the cleaning lady. This just seems like a lowly term to me, but my husband says I am being too sensitive. I want this woman to feel good about coming to our house. She does not do more than keep everything neat and clean, but I believe she keeps the house tidy so she should be called a "housekeeper." Is calling someone a cleaning lady offensive, or is it simply describing a job? -- No Scrubs, Baltimore
DEAR NO SCRUBS: What does she call herself? That would be a great place to start. If you don't know, ask her. Your husband is not wrong, but honestly, this has more to do with tone than words. I imagine you are extremely grateful for the woman who cleans your home. When you and your family refer to her or introduce her, make sure that you do so with the respect that you have for her role in your home. A twist on your husband's description may be, "This is Rose (or whatever her name is). She is the lady who keeps our home in order." Or "She is the lady who cleans our home." Like you, I prefer "housekeeper." To that end, you can still call her that and encourage your children to do the same. Your husband can make a separate choice.