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Tired of being tired

Annie Lane

Dear Annie: My live-in girlfriend and I, both 58 years old, have a dilemma.

Several times a month, we watch her 7-year-old granddaughter for a night or two, usually on weekends. The child arrives in the evening, stays up until 3 or 4 a.m. and sleeps until early afternoon. I have made fun plans, only to be told that we have to cancel because the child is sleeping. I never know when to make plans.

My girlfriend is tired and haggard by the time the child goes home, and this causes friction in our relationship. I feel boundaries need to be set. I have suggested that we set bedtime rules. I am told that this child has no structure at home and Grandma will not or cannot set rules.

I am very frustrated. We are planning on taking the child on a quick trip to my mother’s in Florida, but I fear it will be ruined by the child’s sleep schedule. What should I do? — Sleep Deprived

Dear Sleep Deprived: Children crave structure and boundaries. It helps them feel safe and secure. Your instinct is completely correct. When she stays at Grandma’s house, it is Grandma’s rules, and those rules should be that a 7-year-old goes to bed at a decent hour. Staying awake until 3 or 4 a.m. is not healthy for anyone, let alone a child who is growing and developing. My guess is that your girlfriend ran this type of household with her daughter, and now she is just repeating the cycle and not wanting to step in.

If you really want to help this child, continue to speak with your girlfriend about the importance of structure and rules. If your girlfriend continues to ignore you, then no Florida.

Editor’s note: Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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