DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have decided to take our son out of the day care where he has been for the past six months. It's a small center, run by a woman, "Joni," who serves as director and lead teacher. She started the service two years ago and manages a staff of about 12.
Joni is the reason we are leaving. She seems incredibly stressed out all the time. She is curt with us when we talk and has been too harried to discuss our concerns over our boy's care. She appears to be more preoccupied with finances than the quality of care she is providing. One of our favorite teachers just quit, and she confided that it was because of the difficulty she had working with Joni.
Because we told Joni we are going, she has requested an "exit interview" to discuss what didn't work for us. I am hesitant about it. If we let her know the impact her stress is having on the quality of service she provides, she might be able to hire an administrator and make improvements. On the other hand, she may take offense.
Our community is small, so we will see her around, and because there are few child care centers, we may need to go back to this one someday. Should we be frank with her or let it go?
— MIDWEST MOM
DEAR MIDWEST MOM: Have the meeting with her. Be kind, calm and nonconfrontational, and do not tell her how to run her business. Explain that you are seeking other options for your son because she has been preoccupied and seems not to have enough time to address your parental concerns. Say you understand how complicated it is running a business even in the best of times, but as much as you like her, your first responsibility must be to your child. Period.
DEAR ABBY: I am a single woman in my 60s who lives alone. One of my greatest fears is developing dementia. Because there is no one living with me, there would be no one around to notice changes in my behavior.
I am still able to balance my checkbook, do my grocery shopping, drive myself to the dentist's office, etc. If I ever need assisted living, how would I recognize the fact so I could make other arrangements before requiring someone else to make them for me?
— GROWING OLDER IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR GROWING OLDER: Most single women have friends with whom they interact on a regular basis. If you didn't recognize the signs that you were slipping, one or more of your friends probably would. With our population living longer, concerns about age-related dementia are growing. Because this is one of your concerns, discuss it with your physician and request to be evaluated for signs of dementia during your annual physicals.
DEAR ABBY: I am a college student with a gender-neutral name. I often need to exchange e-mails with people who have never met me, and I am frequently assumed to be male when I am, in fact, female.
Is there a polite way to correct this in my return e-mails? Or should I not let people know they have made a mistake until they meet me in person?
— Z.W., CAMBRIDGE, MASS.
DEAR Z.W.: A sure way to let people know they have made an incorrect assumption would be to sign your return e-mail "Ms. Z.W."
Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.