Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My son's nanny is constantly late picking him up. We set the time specifically every day, and she doesn't seem to think that being 15 to 30 minutes late is a big deal. We do. The other day, my son went on a field trip, and his nanny was the only one who was not at the school when the bus arrived. When I spoke to her about it, she brushed it off, saying that another mom took my son and got the kids ice cream while waiting for her to arrive. Really? I do not pay her to have other people pick up my son. How can I get her to be on time? I need her, and I need her to be punctual. -- Seeking Punctuality, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR SEEKING PUNCTUALITY: Have a face-to-face meeting with your nanny and discuss her lateness. Explain that you consider it very serious that she is regularly late. Note that it is good for her to have established a network of support with other nannies and moms, but that you do not expect her to have to use it. As with any other job, hers has a specific start time. Ask her what has been happening that has caused her lateness. Ask her if you can do anything to help her be prompt. Clarify that moving forward, you expect her to be on time. If ever there is a challenge or conflict, tell her you expect her to inform you ASAP. If she cannot change her ways, you may need to replace her.

DEAR HARRIETTE: After reading your advice to "Guilty," who was considering revealing her affair to her husband, I agree wholeheartedly with your advice. If she needs to unload the feeling of guilt, she should make an appointment with a counselor.

I met a man who was divorced by his wife because he felt the need to tell her of an affair he had had a year earlier. The pain and grief that ensued after his admission was so great that he lost everything: his family, his home and his job (the affair was with his female boss). The company fired them both.

Then he was diagnosed with cancer. He told me he felt that the turmoil and stress he had experienced had contributed to his cancer. If he had the choice to do it again, I am sure he would not have uttered a word. -- Think Twice, Chicago

DEAR THINK TWICE: I realize that the question of whether to tell about a past affair in a marriage is wrought with mixed feelings for many people. On the one hand, there is the desire to be honest and forthright when you want the marriage to continue and to be healthy. On the other hand, there is the question of why you want to tell in the first place. If it is over and there are no children, no STDs and nothing keeping you and the other person connected, I believe that bringing it up actually aggravates a dead and buried situation.

As occurred in your friend's situation, life can unravel after the fact -- perhaps unnecessarily. Sometimes the need for forgiveness can be filled between you and your God.