Ask Amy: Grandparents treated like toddlers, act like teens

Amy Dickinson
Tribune Content Agency

Dear Amy: My husband and I have a family member living with us who is fighting cancer.

My (adult) daughter volunteered to stay with my parents during the pandemic, since she’s able to telework. She is now at her wits’ end.

My parents are sneaking out while she is out of their sight for more than 10 minutes.

She said it’s like she’s a mom to two teenagers. They’re waiting for her to turn her back before they sneak out. We all believe that their behavior could prove deadly.

They’re in their 70s and healthy. We don’t think they should stay with us because of the health of our other family member.

We are trying to get them interested in some indoor hobbies, to no avail. They say they’re being safe, but then admit to running into old friends and standing around chatting.

My daughter tried to take the car keys, but they invited HER to leave! (Of course, she won’t do that.)

I told my husband that if nothing else, I’m going to get their car keys.

Should I leave my sick one at home in order to watch over two healthy parents?

Your suggestions? — Desperate

Dear Desperate: My suggestion is that your daughter should get tested, and if she tests negative for the virus, she should leave her grandparents’ household, leaving their car keys behind.

You don’t mention that your parents are needy or impaired (other than their judgment), so I’m assuming that they simply have minimal regard for their health or the health of others.

As the nation faces a dramatic surge of the virus, surely they know by now that if either one of them gets sick, they put all of their contacts at great risk, and that their hospital stay will be a very lonely one.

You and your daughter should make sure that they have all of the basic knowledge and tools for cutting down their risk: Hand-washing and sanitizer in the car and at home, masks up when they enter a building or encounter anyone, and maintaining appropriate distance when they are visiting with others. (Where I live, there is a mandatory mask mandate inside all public buildings, which really cuts out the guesswork).

You are treating your parents like toddlers, and they are responding like teenagers, so stop. This would mean that you won’t be able to spend time with them until the all-clear, but that is a consequence of the choices they are making.

Dear Amy: My brother and his wife have been borrowing money from my father.

They have not paid him back, and now they are not speaking to each other.

When I visit my father, he will ask me if I have heard anything from my brother.

My father expects me to say something to my brother about paying him back, but I don’t want to be the middleman.

My brother has also put me in a tough spot. He doesn’t want me to tell my father anything about his health problems, which he says is the reason he and his wife haven’t paid Dad back.

I’ve asked my brother to please talk to Dad. They are both very stubborn.

I know my father will be upset with me for not telling him about my brother’s health.

What should I do? — In the Middle

Dear Middle: In theory, I completely agree with your stance, but you are also stubbornly sticking to your guns, when you might be able to offer a pathway out.

Tell your brother, “Sorry. I can’t keep this secret for you. It has put me in a terrible position, and now it is affecting my relationship with both you and Dad.”

The next time you are with your dad, call your brother from your phone, and after he answers, hand it to your dad, saying, “Here. You two need to catch up.”

Dear Amy: We just adopted our first family dog and we’ve been having difficulty teaching our 8-year-old son how to interact with the dog gently. His desire to hug and kiss the dog is sometimes met with a growl.

Based on your recent advice, I played the video for my son and it resonated for him in a way that our words did not.

He is now able to approach our dog with empathy. — New Dog Family

Dear Family: An estimated 77% of dog bites come from a family or friend’s dog. It turns out that, despite how much we love them, dogs do NOT like to be hugged.