Questions and Answers


Dear Pat,
How do you feel about a day care provider in a private home answering the door in her bathrobe? And, how does one tactfully request that they be dressed when coming to the door? My 11-year old son is to the age where he is noticing the female form and the day care provider is "well endowed."

You certainly have the right to expect certain standards when you hire someone to do any job. If I were to take work to someone’s house at a time we had agreed upon, I would expect them to look as if they were ready to do the job. Of course, the problem is that sometimes day care is provided at hours that many people normally sleep, so that has to be considered. But you still might ask your day care provider to wear sweat pants and sweat shirts instead of a bathrobe. Probably the wisest thing to do would be to simply ask if there is something else that she could wear that is comfortable and homey without being a robe. I wouldn’t be too concerned about your son, because as his hormones continue to change, he will probably be thinking about the female form even under a suit of armor, but you still have the right to request any standards that you consider minimal from your day care provider. You should be able to have some say in snacks, appearance, cleanliness standards, naps–in the case of a younger child, and other activities that you are paying the child care provider to make available in your absence. You need to feel comfortable leaving your child with someone, knowing that they can negotiate with you and will honor your wishes.


Dear Pat,
Is it possible to know if someone is gay or not? My situation is that I was involved with a man that I had suspicions about his sexuality. I actually confronted him on two different occasions and the issue was avoided, but never denied. Do you feel that “gut instincts” are usually correct?

While your gut instincts might be very accurate, I think the most important piece of information you gave me is that you directly questioned this man and did not get the reaction that I would expect from a heterosexual. Many people do have strong intuitive feelings about whether or not someone is gay or lesbian, but once you have established a relationship with a person, it is always best to ask rather than assume, unless, of course, you are in the military. That you have asked and he evaded the question suggests that either he has not made up his mind about his own sexual orientation or he is gay or bisexual and may be afraid of discussing this with you. Because AIDS is no longer a disease that is exclusive to homosexual relationships, you deserve the sexual history of anyone with whom you are going to be sexually active. If he was or is sexually active in either the gay or heterosexual community and even if he wore a condom, you still need that information. There is too much to lose.


Dear Dr. Pat,
I understand that continued contact with a step-parent after divorce can be beneficial, but when there has been no contact for almost a year and then the step-parent decides he wants back in the child’s life, is that beneficial to the child? My feelings are that the step-father is doing so for his own selfish reasons and is not actually thinking of what this could do to the child. Besides, the child still has contact (three times a week) with his biological dad. Would this be too confusing? The child is ten years of age. Thank you for your opinion.

The main thing for you to consider in making this decision is what is best for the child. If there is any possibility that the child could benefit from the love and attention of his ex-step-dad, I would encourage the visitation.

Children so often feel abandoned in a divorce situation or even responsible for the divorce. Even if the ex-step-dad only took the role of a distant uncle, that might still be a comfort to the child, relieving him of any responsibility he might have felt for the divorce.

Even under ideal conditions motives are very hard to identify. It is also hard to be objective about the motives of an ex-spouse within a year of a divorce. Perhaps the man is lonely now, realizing that this may be the only child he ever gets to influence–assuming there are no other children. That would not be the worst motive in the world for loving a child. Unless there are things that I don’t know, such as the step-dad’s being cruel to the boy in the past, I think you can just as easily assume that part of his absence from the child’s life might have had to do with the man’s difficulty in sorting out the divorce.

One of the odd and unexpected benefits of divorce and remarriage can be having more people in the child’s world who know him and care about him. If that is the case here, I would hate for your son to miss out on caring that might be there for him.

If you are feeling that it is hard to fit this into his parental social calendar, simply limit the visits to a couple of afternoons a month. Think of it as free child care!


Dear Pat,
My husband is going to be transferred within the next six months. With this transfer, I will inevitably be giving up my career. I have mixed feelings about this change. I know it’s in our best interest financially but I’m not sure I’m ready for a “life” change. How can I be more accepting and adjust to this?

What I would really wish for you is that your earning power could reach a point that it might be in the best interest for you both to stay, since the problem of continually starting over may keep you from your full career potential. A few things might help in the future.

First, think in terms of building your resume to include more and more strengths to make your future career even stronger. In some ways you actually don’t have to give up your career, unless you were developing a career studying the birds of the Great Plains. As long as you are having challenging growing work experiences where you are acquiring new skills, you are preparing for your next career move. I always look for people with a wide variety of experiences when I hire someone at the Hudson Center, and I am sure other employers do, too.

Second, to feel better about the move think of what the advantages of moving are: such as a new place to live, new shops and restaurants, new people to meet. A fresh start can bring more confidence and new adventures. I like that I have had a least a little experience outside the midwest. Although this is my favorite place to live, I feel more confident about my ability to get around in the world because I have lived in other parts of the United States. It is always possible that you may have an opportunity in your new place that you could never have had here.

Third, it sounds as if you have moved before and probably know that when you get involved in a new community in about six months to a year you may like it as much as the place you are living now. Think of what you did before to get into the new community and what were the parts of that you enjoyed the most. Life usually seems to offer compensations for disappointments. Good luck in the adventure of exploring new territory!

Copyright 1999, 2003, Pat Hudson, All Rights Reserved.