Ask Amy: One mom’s helpful friend wants out

Dear Amy: My good friend and I each have three children in the same classes who also participate in some of the same extracurricular activities.

As parents we are flooded with information about deadlines, events and requirements. We parents share tips and help one another. But my friend seems to be taking advantage of this.

For years she has barely bothered with the emails and hand-outs detailing key information. Instead, she constantly relies on me to tell her what she needs to know — which I’ve been doing from the kids’ kindergarten through college applications.

If I say the info is listed online at a website, she’ll ask for the link to the exact page. For something particularly complicated, such as Eagle Scout projects or college applications, she’ll ask me to walk her through every step — often requesting documentation of links or resources. It’s extremely time consuming. If I say I can’t remember, she’ll hound me to look through my notes.

She’s smart, healthy, and capable. Her husband is involved and helpful.

We have similar work loads. Why does she do this?!

I’m all for pooling parent resources and helping a friend, but after 18 years of this, and with two kids still coming up through the ranks, I’m tired.

She justifies the dynamic by saying, “It takes a village!”

This villager is wondering how I get her to start doing her own research, without coming off as an unhelpful friend.

— Tired

Dear Tired: It does take a village. But sometimes, the villagers take up their torches and storm the castle.

You’ve been your friend’s clerical assistant for over a decade. If you want to stop now, you’ll have to calmly and resolutely retrain her.

Unless she has a learning or literacy challenge, I’d say that she has demonstrated a genius-level aptitude for manipulating you into doing her work for her. Hounding works!

Here’s how to get out of doing her bidding. You say, “Whew, I’m tired. I’m going to let you get your children across the finish line. You can do it! I’ve been your faithful villager, but now I’m going to accept my merit badge and retire.”

Dear Amy: Am I obligated to attend a wedding shower and to give a gift?

My niece-in-law (my husband’s niece) has postponed her wedding for many months due to COVID.

They are now going to marry on a tropical island.

My husband has been invited, but my daughter (age 15) and I have not been invited.

My husband will be spending over $3,000 just to get there and stay in a hotel for three days.

He still wants to give a generous gift.

Now my mother-in-law is planning to give a shower in honor of her granddaughter.

If I don’t go, I feel like my husband’s family will be upset with me.

If I do go, do I have to give a gift?

It seems like a lot for a wedding I wasn’t even invited to. I mean, I am not invited, but my money seems to be.

— Cold Showered

Dear Showered: If you are not invited to the wedding, you shouldn’t be invited to the wedding shower. That is basic logic, as well as basic etiquette.

So first you’d need to determine if you are actually invited to the shower.

If you are invited and don’t want to attend (completely understandable), you should simply have something else to do that day. Don’t act out, don’t huff and puff over the indignity of it all — just, be busy that day.

If your husband’s family has the gall to be upset with you over this, well — this is just a pain they will have to learn to live with.

You should not be nervous about earning their esteem.

Stay cool, polite and respectful. Your husband is representing the family at this wedding. That will have to be enough.

Dear Amy: Your response to “The Not so Prodigal Daughter” bothered me. This was from a stay-at-home mom who resented her sister’s choice to pursue a career in the arts.

You said that she could also pursue a career in the arts if she wanted to.

Do you not understand that being a stay-at-home mom is a full-time job?

— Upset

Dear Upset: Scores of stay-at-home moms further their education and pursue new opportunities while also raising children. My mother did it, I did it, and your mother probably did it, too. This is not a requirement, but a choice that parents can make if they are motivated to do so.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, In The Know, to get entertainment news sent straight to your inbox.