Desperate Dog Sitter: How to Tell Family you Can’t Watch Their Animals

Q: My brother in law and his wife do not have any children, but they have three large dogs. They like to travel a lot, and they expect my husband and I to feed their dogs when they are away. My husband has no problem with doing this, but, my husband travels a lot and I have been made to take over. They are planning another trip soon and my husband is going with them, leaving me as the person to take care of their animals, again. My problem is this, I have many animals, horses, dogs etc., and I would not ask them to watch them and have always made arrangements for a farm sitter or I don’t travel. I told my husband I thought they should board the dogs or hire a pet sitter. These are large dogs and they like to jump. I feel that as much as they like to travel, they should not rely on us every time. I feel put out having to drive over every day when I have things to do as well. My husband says thats what family is for and I’m being mean. This is getting ugly! Am I wrong?

A: It all depends on the give and take of your relationship with your brother-in-law and his wife. If they do other things for you and this is a way you can help, it is great. If you are doing all the giving and it is a burden, then you have to speak up, not in the ugly place, but in a real place that you just can’t take on the responsibility because you have your own big things to deal with, so you are willing to help but can’t do it all. Maybe by starting with a shared responsibility – you and a pet sitter, for example, you can “wean” them into a place where part of their travels include pet care that doesn’t involve you, especially when it is you by yourself and your husband isn’t helping.

Mazel Tov: What is an Appropriate gift to bring to a Bar Mitzvah?

Q: What is an appropriate gift to give to a young man at his bar mitzvah? We are neighbors and have known him since he was little. Is money and a card appropriate?

A: Money and a card are an excellent Bar Mitzvah gift. Others could include a gift certificate to a store that carries items he could use for an interest or hobby, or one of those items if you know what he could use. But if you aren’t certain, money is always appreciated and often is given as a gift at a Bar Mitzvah.

No Phone Zone: Are Cell Phones Okay in the Library?

Q: In your book Emily Post’s Guide to Good Manners for Kids, you give quite a few suggestions as to where kids should turn off their cell phones. Why did you not mention libraries? Cell phones have become a problem for us (patrons and staff) too.

A: You are correct.  Children and adults alike should either turn off cell phones or put them on vibrate.  If they must take a call, they should go outside to take the call. In such a short book it would be impossible to list every situation that would require a child to turn off a cell phone, but we will make note of your suggestion for future revisions.

Family Followings: What are Some Guidelines for Generational Names?

Q: When there are same names for dads and sons, Sr. Jr., or I, II, III, IV etc. what are the rules on how they are used? When one dies, do you change the other names or does everyone keep their respective title? Is the suffix written on their birth certificate?

A: In some families, names are carried on through three or more generations – John (Sr.) is succeeded by John, Jr., and Johns III, IV, and V.  But this presents something of a problem once John, Sr. has died.  Does each man retain the title by which he has always been known, or does everyone “move up”?  The only “rule” in this regard is to use common sense.  Moving up the suffixes is bound to cause some confusion among acquaintances who used to know the new John, Jr. as John III.  Then there are the changes that must be made on personal accounts and bank checks. Yes, the suffix may be placed on a birth certificate.