DEAR HARRIETTE: I am planning on taking my first trip out of the country since giving birth. I am nervous to leave my husband alone with our child. He has barely spent any time alone with our 7-month-old son.
How can I put myself at ease without offending my husband regarding his parenting? I would feel more comfortable if my mother came to stay with our son as well. -- Mom Knows Best, Jackson, Mississippi
DEAR MOM KNOWS BEST: Trust your gut. It is smart for you to set up your husband and son for success. Don’t think of this as offending him.
Consider the idea of inviting your mother to come help as a support. Talk to your husband and explain to him that you want to make your absence as comfortable as possible for the family. Given how much time and attention you know is required with a baby, you want to make it easy for your husband to manage his time and care for your son. For this reason, you want your mother to come and stay at your house while you are away. Present this to him as a suggestion so that he doesn’t feel like you are bossing him around, as that may annoy him.
Talk to your mother about boundaries and expectations. She needs to be mindful that your husband may need his space. Whenever he wants to help out with your son, she should allow him the time and space to do so. They should discuss a plan for who will do what in advance, if at all possible.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend "Eileen" is excessively nosy about my son. Our sons are the same age, and she constantly asks how "Adam" is doing in school and sports. I try not to talk about my children much at the risk of boring everyone, but I feel especially uneasy around Eileen.
Comparing children is toxic. How could I get her to cut it out? No two children are the same. -- Unique, Detroit
DEAR UNIQUE: Here’s the perfect time to deflect. While Eileen wants to know details about Adam, redirect the conversation and ask her how her son is doing. Yes, you may have to endure listening to long stories about her son’s education and extracurricular activities, but you will likely not have to answer the question. People love to talk about themselves and commonly lose sight of others when they get into their stories.
You can choose to be direct and tell Eileen that you don’t like comparing children. It is not a practice that you believe is healthy, so you will pass on sharing the blow-by-blow details of Adam’s life. A third option is for you to answer in vague ways, saying, "Adam really likes school. This is a great year for him. How about your son?" (See the pivot.) Same with sports: "Adam is an active kid. I’m glad he enjoys playing baseball/football (whatever it is). How about your son?"
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)