Dear Miriam,

This is not a big problem, but you might be able to advise me. I am a teacher, married to a farmer, with a young child. With my job, I have the summer off, so I can bring my daughter to the beach, on days out etc while my husband is busy on the farm.

My husband’s sister lives nearby and works part-time. She has two children around the same age as my girl, and they are great pals. My problem is this.

My daughter wants her cousins to come to the beach etc with us. I have no problem with that. But invariably, you end up buying drinks, ice-creams etc. My sister-in-law never sends the children with any money, so it comes out of my pocket. This could be two or three times a week in the summer, so it all adds up; and that’s before you factor in the price of petrol and all the rest of it.

Also, my sister-in-law rarely brings my child anywhere, though she does go to her house occasionally to play.

It’s not the children’s fault, but I’m starting to get a bit resentful. I feel that I am already providing free childcare; the least she could do is give them a few euro for their day out to take the cost off me. But how do I say that without sounding “stingy”?

Again, I don’t begrudge her bringing the children along, as my girl is an only child and it’s important for her to have cousins/friends for company.

Munster reader

Dear Munster reader,

Thanks for your email. I think it’s already very kind of you to involve your daughter’s cousins in your summer days out. I’m sure you don’t begrudge them the odd 99 either; but of course it all adds up, especially at the moment.

With the cost of living crisis, I think it’s more than reasonable to address this with your sister-in-law, before the holidays start.

You can say that you are delighted to bring the cousins along on days out; but this year, it would be great if they could bring a packed lunch for a picnic/pocket money for any incidentals, just with the way that costs are spiralling. I can’t really see how she could object or take offence to that.

I hope this helps and I wish you a lovely summer ahead.

Readers write

Dear Miriam,

I just read the letter in the 11 June edition regarding how to support a bereaved friend. I lost my mother last year. She was quite young and even though ill for a decade, I was one of main carers, I was left reeling when she died as we were close.

My default is to avoid people when hurting. My friends persisted in visiting, joining me for walks, supporting me.

My advice to this person is exactly what you advised. Persist in meeting in person as the grieving woman can’t get her head around this organising.

Collect her and go somewhere she likes for coffee/picnic/sitting on beach. Take weight off her deciding where to go. Hopefully, she’ll heal knowing she’ll make it through with such kind friends.

Kind regards,

Supported by love

Dear Miriam,

I read you weekly in the Irish Country Living section of the Irish Farmers Journal, learning from all the problems and last week, the daughter who wanted to go abroad on the holiday [after the Leaving Cert] and the other mother saying to trust her. Now my view.

The singer Mary Coughlan was on a radio programme one morning speaking on same. What she saw [in one of these popular holiday destinations for teenagers] completely shocked her.

As I love dealing with students, I was once in a discussion group with six mature third-year teaching students. Our topic was teenagers etc. They all agreed when they have teenagers, no way will they give them the freedom they were given! It was so wrong!

To me, that speaks for itself and should be published everywhere.



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