Q: I have a one-year-old granddaughter. Increasingly I feel very put upon by my daughter-in-law. Two or three times a week, she asks me (often at short notice) if I can babysit and I always drop everything and say yes. I feel she is taking advantage. What can I do without causing tension?

A: My initial response was ‘become more assertive and learn to say no!’ However, after further thought, I felt that your daughter-in-law’s behaviour, perhaps warranted closer examination. First, I think she obviously trusts you and that is a testament to you and your positive influence. Second, I wonder if she’s coping as well as she might be? A newborn is such a life-changing event and sometimes it takes parents time to adjust. Perhaps she is feeling overwhelmed by it all and her first instinct is to call on you so she can catch a break. While I understand how you feel about the situation, maybe you can use it in the short term to do a little bit of detective work.

You could diplomatically have a chat with your son to see how things are when you’re not there. You could also suggest that he take care of the baby for a few hours, so you can take your daughter-in-law out for lunch and check-in with how she’s feeling. By doing this, you can assess the situation and make your own mind up about whether they are struggling or whether they are just banking on your good nature.

If the former is true, at least you will have opened up a dialogue and perhaps you could suggest that you come over to support her when she is there in a mentoring role, taking some of the strain, but also being there to help her become more confident. If the latter is true, then you need to get something more formal in place. Tell your son and daughter-in-law when you are available to babysit and create a regular weekly routine. That way you’ll be able to build your life around your care for your granddaughter and they will have some free time each week to recharge their batteries.

Russell Hemmings is a Dubai-based life coach and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist (russellhemmings.co.uk). Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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