DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I have two kids, both under age 10. My husband works a full-time job, and I am a part-time artist. We spend any free time we have with our children and have a close bond with them.
Next month, my husband has a business conference in the Bahamas. I was invited to go along, but we would have to leave our kids behind. If I go, it would be the first trip without our kids since they were born. Part of me wants to go to spend quality time with my husband, but the other part of me feels an immense amount of guilt for leaving my two kids alone for a week. Both of our moms live nearby and have offered to help. What do you think I should do? -- Mom Wants a Vacation, Chicago
DEAR MOM WANTS A VACATION: This sounds like a gift to both of you. Go for it! It’s not like you are going away for a month or that you are leaving your children with strangers. You have everything in place to be able to have a little getaway without guilt.
Will your children be upset at first? Probably. But chances are, they will quickly begin to enjoy their time with the grandmothers. If you are concerned that the grandmothers could use some support, arrange for a baby sitter that you already use to be on call or scheduled to help each day.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My older sister attacked me; this isn’t the first time, either. She has always had this grudge against me because she thinks I’m the favorite child. All I do is be there for her and show her I love her. I even got her a job. She was happy at first when I helped her get the job at the restaurant I work at, but now she’s asking to take my hours, and I told her I need them to save money for an internship I want to do in Europe. She yelled at me, saying I’m selfish and don’t care about her; I don’t understand why she would say that.
I’ve realized her emotions switch quickly, and I'm afraid she has some type of personality disorder. How can I suggest she see someone about her emotions? -- Concerned Sister, Santa Monica, California
DEAR CONCERNED SISTER: If your parents are still living and involved in your life, now would be a time to enlist their support. It’s likely that your sister will lash out at you when you confront her, so moral support for both of you is advisable. In terms of the job, be clear with your boss what hours you need, and let your sister pave her own way. Don’t make excuses for her, though. You don’t want her behavior to cost you your job.
When you are away from the job, have a heart-to-heart with your sister. Tell her how concerned you are that she is behaving erratically. Point out specifics, including when she recently attacked you. Suggest that she may have some issues she should deal with, based upon the behavior you have been noticing. Tell her you don’t want her to lose her job or her relationships, but if she continues the way she’s going, bad things are likely to happen.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)