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Dealing with Criticism: How to Handle a Sibling’s Disapproval During Visits

Dear Amy: I am feeling quite hesitant about an upcoming visit from my brother and sister-in-law this summer. They reside out of state and last came to visit us two years ago. Unfortunately, that visit did not go smoothly. My brother was quite critical of my family and our way of life, including our living arrangements and lifestyle choices.

Despite years of phone communication, I had not fully grasped the negative aspects of his personality. While I have visited him multiple times over the past decade or so to celebrate the arrival of new family members, those visits were generally pleasant. However, during his last stay with us, his demeanor, remarks, and discussions echoed those of our father from years past—and that resemblance is far from positive.

Although he has suggested staying at a hotel this time, I am seeking advice or insights on how to potentially have him stay at our home and ensure a more positive experience compared to the previous visit. With a small family, we genuinely desire a harmonious and healthy relationship, but I am uncertain about the feasibility of achieving that. Any recommendations?

— Apprehensive Sibling

Apprehensive: It appears that you are inclined to have your brother and his spouse stay at your residence, despite his previous critical behavior during their last visit. While you seek suggestions for improving the upcoming visit, the key to a better experience lies in your brother’s willingness to exhibit different behavior. However, placing reliance on this change may not be realistic.

In certain situations, hosting longer-term guests elsewhere, such as in a nearby hotel or rental house, can alleviate strain on relationships. You could broach this topic with your brother by expressing, “If you would feel more comfortable at a hotel, there are several options nearby; I can provide you with some links to choose from. We have always enjoyed our visits to your place and wish to reciprocate the hospitality. However, it seems that you were not entirely at ease during your last stay with us.”

Approach this forthcoming visit with optimism, but also prepare for the possibility of addressing any personal insults from your brother during his stay.

Dear Amy: I am responsible for caring for my 15-month-old granddaughter on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon without compensation, which brings me great joy. Both parents work primarily from home.

An issue has arisen concerning my son and daughter-in-law’s request that I refrain from allowing my granddaughter to nap during my morning shifts. They prefer her nap time to be reserved for the afternoons to enable them to focus on their work. However, the little one tends to doze off briefly for 20 to 30 minutes mid-morning. This short nap affects her afternoon nap, which could extend to two to three hours if she misses the morning rest.

I view sleep deprivation as a form of mistreatment towards a child, and I find my son and daughter-in-law’s demands somewhat self-centered. I fear potential repercussions, such as reduced contact with my granddaughter, if I confront them about this minor inconvenience. How should I handle this situation?

— Concerned Grandparent

Concerned: Having raised your son and now assisting in raising his child, you are well aware that toddlers typically take two naps daily. It is evident that a well-rested baby is preferable to a cranky and fatigued one, with rested infants generally enjoying better sleep patterns than exhausted ones.

It is essential for these parents to trust your caregiving judgment. I recommend continuing to allow the child to nap as needed, and if the parents challenge you on this matter, explain that you believe it is in their child’s best interest to follow her natural inclination to nap briefly in the morning. If they insist on interfering with this sensible and compassionate practice and consider terminating your caregiving role over it, they may need to find and compensate an alternate caregiver who might not be as emotionally invested in the child’s well-being.

Dear Amy: In response to your statement, “… if you don’t think that our higher power has a sense of humor, I suggest you take a good, long look around,” I have always held the belief that any deity capable of creating a camel must possess a sense of humor.

— Rabbi Yaakov Lavon

Rabbi Lavon: Absolutely!

© 2024 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.