DEAR AMY: I'm a 23-year-old mother of two. My husband, "Mitchell," was laid off last August from his job as a plumber and was unable to find another well-paying job, so I went to work full time.
He decided to stay at home with the kids.
I really enjoy my new job. My co-workers are extremely pleasant and helpful and have even encouraged me to start going back to school to complete my degree.
My only problem is that Mitchell feels that just being home with the kids is all he needs to do.
He does not help with dishes, laundry or cleaning at all!
I come home every day to a house that is a complete disaster, and he sees nothing wrong with this.
If I bring this up, all I get in return is a list of excuses and an explanation that when I stayed home, I had it easier.
I am beyond tired of this behavior, but I have no clue how to explain to him (without starting a huge fight) that I don't have the energy to do my job, come home and clean the house, and go to school full time.
Day care is not an option for us due to numerous factors regarding one of our children's health needs.
DEAR DISTRESSED: Any stay-at-home parent with a full-time working spouse should consider taking care of the household an important part of his or her role.
You and your husband should sit down during a quiet and calm moment and review the list of responsibilities in your household. Engage him in developing an organizational chart for all of you (the kids should also be given reasonable duties).
If he does the shopping, can you do some cooking? Who handles the house, lawn and car maintenance? Who handles bill paying? If you vacuum on Saturdays, can he keep on top of the laundry?
If your husband is depressed or stressed by his job loss and duties at home, you may have to help him deal with this so he can be a more effective husband and father.
He would also benefit from connecting with other parents -- especially other stay-at-home dads. I recommend that he check the Web site www.athomedad.org as a way to start.
You should be willing to consider postponing school (or going part time) to spend more time at home until things are more stable.
DEAR AMY: My daughter is a high school senior. She's sweet, well liked, good in sports and very social. But her grades are not so great. Handing in homework has been a huge problem.
She has gotten into a couple of good colleges, mainly based on her high test scores.
Testing well is a curse if you don't have the study skills and discipline to help you in class.
Many of her friends are going to top schools, in some cases simply because they work twice as hard and care far more than my daughter does about doing her best.
Now she is nearly 18 and heading to college in the fall.
How do we help her learn to become more proactive about her schoolwork? She has to do well as a freshman to get into her major.
DEAR WORRIER: You don't say whether your daughter has ever been tested for learning issues, but the fact that she tests so well but has trouble managing her schoolwork is a sign that she may have underlying challenges.
You should check with her school to arrange an evaluation. A tutor or learning specialist could teach her study strategies.
You should also work with her to make sure she attends the right college.
A college you consider "good" might not be good for her. It might be best for her to defer admission for a year and get her feet wet at community college. She needs to be a motivated partner in her own education. She won't succeed until she is.
DEAR AMY: "Old-Timer in the Northwest" wanted to ditch his life (and wife) and move to South America.
He should be aware that if he moves and faces health issues, Medicare stops at the border.
-- Experienced Traveler
DEAR TRAVELER: Thanks for the reminder that some things don't travel well -- health coverage, for instance.
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