Dear Annie: I have three children under the age of 10. When our oldest two were very young, my husband and I asked my brother, "Ned," and his wife to be the guardians of our children, even though they lived in another state. We chose them over my sister, "Dotty," because at the time, Dotty was engaged to a man no one in the family liked. Their engagement was subsequently called off, and she met and married another man we liked much better.
When my husband and I redid our wills five years ago, we decided to switch guardianship to Dotty to spare our children the possibility of a move in the event of our deaths. Plus, my in-laws live in the same general area, and we felt they could keep close ties with our kids and help my sister.
Now, five years later, Dotty has children of her own, and my husband and I no longer think she and her husband are the best guardians for ours. Ned and his wife have children, too, now, and are doing a fine job raising them. And we have since moved across the country and are equally far from everyone. As you may have guessed, we would like to switch guardianship back to my brother and his wife.
The question is, how do I do this without hurting Dotty's feelings? Any ideas on how to have this delicate conversation? Wanting To Hurt No One
Dear Wanting: Is Ned's situation more financially stable than Dotty's? Are the ages of your brother's children more compatible with yours? Their gender? Your brother's views on schooling? Religion? Discipline? Any of these are valid, and perfectly understandable, reasons for switching.
Find something logical and inoffensive, and then tell Dotty about your decision, adding that it's possible you will change your mind again when the kids are older. Then let's hope the guardianship is never needed.
Dear Annie: I am married to a nail-biter, and sometimes it just drives me crazy to watch him bite and spit until his fingers bleed.
"Andy" is out of work right now, and I think a potential employer would be put off by the look of his hands. Why do people do this? And how can I live with it without reacting? Big Knot in My Stomach
Dear Big Knot: It's possible your husband's nail-biting is due to stress, in which case, stress-management techniques would probably help. Experts say it also can help to keep one's nails neatly trimmed, put something bitter-tasting on them, snap a rubber band on the wrist when feeling the urge to bite, substitute another stress-relieving activity when feeling anxious or bored, wear gloves or put bandages on the fingertips. Some nail-biting is connected to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, in which case, you should contact the Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation (ocfoundation.org) for tips and information.
Of course, all this presupposes that your husband is willing to work on the problem. You can point out that other people do notice ragged, bleeding nails and cuticles, and it would be in his best interest to take it seriously, but otherwise, there's not much you can do. When he starts chewing, leave the room or put your face in a good book.
Dear Annie: I loved the letter from "M.N. from Kansas," who suggested a folding walker for those who have trouble while shopping. If it comes with a cup holder for a beer, my husband needs one. Tricia in Tallahassee
Dear Tricia: We bet that would come in handy for a lot of folks. (Not the beer. The cup holder.)