April 14, 2024

Balkan Travellers

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Caroline Hacks: A service between friends turns into a complaint triangle

Dear Caroline: For many years, one of my oldest friends has been taking my cats for a month every summer while I’m out of town. Since they live in a high floor apartment with a balcony, they have always asked me to help them install some safety barriers to reduce the odds of a cat falling in and meeting their premature end. I’ve told them I find this risk very low, but I’ve gone with it because it gives them peace of mind.

This year, I need to delegate cat delivery to my partner, who shares my view that the barrier is unnecessary and… doesn’t want to help with the installation.

My friend is upset about this and has complained bitterly to me. While I sympathize, I resent that they expect me to be a messenger when they have their own relationship with my partner and can easily express their disappointment directly.

Is it acceptable to treat someone as a proxy for the other half in these situations? What is the best response?

stuck in the middle: The answer, for sure, is that it would be less complicated for your friend to talk to your partner directly. However, the good is between you and your friend, not between your partner and your friend, so talking to you makes more sense.

But you asked me the wrong question and chose the wrong target for your displeasure.

The problem here is the incredibly obnoxious choice your partner made, to draw a hard line against minimal effort to prank one of your “old friends” who does you a huge favor on a yearly basis.

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You’re not “stuck,” and your “middle” state is the responsibility to make it clear to your partner that when people do you great favors, you either indulge in what they’re asking for or stop asking for favors.

And yes, you’re asking your partner for a favor, too—one that you hope they’ll do in full, As requested , Or decline up front, because half that favor has resulted in resentment that could cost you your friend’s goodwill.

Are you sure about this partner, may I ask? Of course, of course? The only info I have to go on is Catgate, but missing out on this essential opportunity to be a good sport doesn’t make your partner look good.

Dear Caroline: I think my granddaughters, 12 and 7, spend a lot of time using their devices and I touched on the fact that the Surgeon General is now looking into this. How much can I pay as a grandmother? They go to bed every night with a device instead of a book! And when they do spend time with me, which is often, can I make my own rules regarding time limits?

Dotted granny: The question is not how much you can pay, but what are the possible consequences of paying that you accept. You can “push” 24 hours up to 7 days, for example, if you’re willing to risk your entire relationship with her and possibly lose it all.

I assume you are not ready. And that means determining how much time in your relationship with your granddaughters—and their parents—that you’re willing to devote to this problem…cause of…crisis.

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Plus, if you approach the issue zealously enough to alienate girls, they’ll lose one of the key emotional connections that act as a firewall against potential harms from going online. This is a ridiculous outcome that you desperately want to avoid.

The answer to your second question is yes, sure, you can set the rules when they are with you. Goldilocks’ way of solving this problem—not too soft, not too hard—is to squeeze it into the larger issues of hardware, overuse, damage, and general surgeons, and instead invite girls to put some restraints simply because you like things better. road. There are no overnight phones in your house, for example, or on the table during meals, or on any “field trips” they go with you. Create screen-free zones for x-hour periods during the day, or, conversely, allow specific check-in or play times during offline days. Giving them some say shows respect and encourages them to buy. This NPR article teeming with ideas.

When you choose the rules, again, don’t preach – just set them and stick to them, with unwavering good nature. The moment you talk about devices or girls’ device habits, or devices’ responsibility for the wreckage of civilization as people foreknow it, you’ll be cheering the defense and adding their voices to the global adults – they don’t. The chorus of ears, which is already loud enough to scare away the angels.

Children may resist visits under the new terms, but they are young enough that their parents can veto them as a reason to opt out. Secure their support as well as the support of children to carefully designated non-conductive spaces when children are with you. The rest is rightly a parents’ battle to choose.

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