Ask Amy: I can’t keep helping my mom friend with her kids’ plans


dear amy: My good friend and I each have three kids in the same class who also participate in some of the same extracurricular activities. As parents, we are inundated with information about deadlines, events, and requirements. We parents share tips and help each other. But my friend seems to be taking advantage of this.

For years, she barely bothered with the emails and handouts of important information. Instead, she constantly relies on me to tell her what she needs to know – which I’ve done from the kids’ kindergarten through college applications.

When I say the information is online on a website, she asks for the link to the exact page. For something particularly complicated, like Eagle Scout projects or college applications, she’ll ask me to walk her through every step — often for documentation of links or resources. It is extremely time consuming. When I say I can’t remember, she chases me to flip through my notes.

She is smart, healthy and capable. Her husband is involved and helpful. We have similar workloads. Why is she doing this?! I’m all for pooling parents’ resources and helping out a friend, but after 18 years of this, and with two kids still coming through the ranks, I’m tired. She justifies the dynamic by saying, “It takes a village!”

This villager wonders how I can get her to start doing her own research without coming across as a useless friend.

tired: It does take a village. But sometimes the villagers take up their torches and storm the castle. You have been your friend’s administrative assistant for more than ten years. If you want to stop now, you need to calmly and firmly retrain her.

Unless she has a learning or reading disability, I’d say she’s shown a genius aptitude for manipulating you into doing her job for her. Hunting works!

Here’s how to get out of her bids. You say, ‘Phew, I’m tired. I’ll let you get your kids across the finish line. You can do it! I’ve been your faithful villager, but now I’m going to accept my badge and retire.’

dear amy: Am I required to attend a wedding reception and give a gift? My niece-in-law (my husband’s niece) has postponed her wedding for many months due to covid. They are now getting married on a tropical island.

My husband is invited, but my daughter (15 years old) and I are not invited. My husband will spend over $3000 to get there and stay in a hotel for three days. He still wants to give a generous gift.

Now my mother-in-law is planning to throw a shower in honor of her granddaughter. If I don’t go, I feel like my husband’s family will be mad at me. If I go, do I have to give a present?

Seems like a lot for a wedding I wasn’t even invited to. I mean, I’m not invited, but my money seems to be.

showered: If you are not invited to the wedding, you should not be invited to the wedding shower. That’s basic logic, as well as basic etiquette. So first you need to determine if you’ve actually been invited to the shower.

If you’re invited and don’t want to come (totally understandable), you just need to have something else to do that day. Don’t pretend, huff and puff about the humiliation of it all – just be busy that day. If your husband’s family has the nerve to be mad at you about this, well – this is just a pain they will have to learn to live with.

You shouldn’t be nervous about earning their esteem. Stay cool, polite and respectful. Your husband is representing the family at this wedding. That should be enough.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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