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Carolyn Hax: A favor between friends spirals into a complaint triangle

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Dear Carolyn: Over the years, one of my oldest friends kindly adopted my cat for a month while I was out of town each summer. They live in high-rise apartments with balconies, so they always asked me to help put up a safety fence to reduce the chances of their cats falling to their untimely deaths. I told them I thought the risk was very low, but I felt safe enough to go with them.

This year, you should let your partner pick up and drop off the cats. My partner agrees with me that fences aren’t necessary and doesn’t want to cooperate with the installation.

My friend got mad about this and complained to me. I sympathize, but expect me to be their messenger when they have their own relationship with my partner, and resent how easy it is to express their disappointment directly.

Is it acceptable to treat someone as a proxy for the other in this situation? What would be the best course of action?

Stuck in the middle: The answer is certainly less complicated for a friend to talk directly to their partner. Still, since the favor is between you and your friend, not between your partner and your friend, it makes more sense to tell you.

But you asked me the wrong question and chose the wrong object of anger.

The problem here is that your partner draws a hard line against minimal efforts to provide humor for one of your “oldest friends” who does a lot of favors for you year after year. A rather surprisingly unpleasant choice.

You are not “stuck”. Your “in-between” status is responsible for pointing out to your partner that when people do you a big favor, you either indulge in what they ask for or stop asking.

And yes, you’re also asking your partner – you hope they do it perfectly, As asked, Alternatively, half-hearted mention of this favor may arouse resentment against your friend’s goodwill, so decline ahead of time.

I’m sure about this partner, but may I ask? Sure, sure? The only information I have to go on is about catgate, sure, missing out on such a basic opportunity to be a good sport doesn’t make your partner look good.

Dear Carolyn: I think my granddaughters (ages 12 and 7) spend too much time on their devices. And I brought up the fact that the Surgeon General is currently looking into this matter. How far can you go as a grandparent? They sleep with a device instead of a book every night. And when they spend time with me, which often happens, can they set their own rules regarding time limits?

Doting Granny: The question is not how much you can push, but what possible consequences of pushing are acceptable to you. For example, if you’re going to bet your entire relationship on it and possibly lose it all, you can push 24/7.

I don’t think you care. It means deciding how much of your time and your relationship with your granddaughters and their parents are willing to devote to this problem…causing…crisis.

Additionally, if you engage in the activity so hard that it drives girls away, they lose one of their key emotional connections that act as guardrails against potential harm online. That’s an ironic result that you definitely want to avoid.

The answer to the second question is “yes absolutely, you can set rules when they are together”. A not-too-soft, not-too-hard way to solve this problem is to focus on the larger issues of devices, overuse, harm, and surgeons in general, and instead ask girls for their input on some of the limitations. . the way. For example, don’t leave your phone on the phone overnight in the house, on the table while you’re eating, or on a “field trip” you take together. Create screen-free zones for x hours during the day, or vice versa, set check-in and play times on days when there are no outlets. Giving them an opinion is respectful and encourages them to agree. This NPR article Ideas abound.

Once you set the rules, again, don’t preach, just set the rules and stick to them with unflinching goodwill. When you speak ill of devices, or the device habits of girls, or of devices’ responsibility for the remnants of civilization that people once knew before they came along, you foster a sense of defensiveness and force universal adults to will add the voice of – Come on, loud chorus. It’s already loud enough to scare the angels.

Children may resist a visit under new conditions, but they are young enough to use it as a reason for parental refusal. When children are together, ensure support in thoughtfully designated unplugged spaces, not just for them. The rest is exactly the battle the parents choose.

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