- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I never thought I could admit to being so overwhelmed, but I am.

I think I have been so conditioned to handling everything and trying to be a good wife and mother that I have completely burned out.

I’m not sure why I’m feeling like this, whether it’s because my husband is deployed or what. I just know that I can’t continue to home-school my two children, take care of the house, participate in the Family Readiness Group, teach Sunday school, volunteer here and there and take care of myself and my children.

At this point, I have discussed the option of not home-schooling my children in August and enrolling them in public school instead. However, my husband doesn’t want me to do that. He thinks I have the tenacity to do 15 jobs. His only job is the Army and taking care of him; that’s it.

I know he’s deployed, but he doesn’t seem to have near the stress I have. This may seem drastic, but sometimes I think my children need the socialization that a school setting would bring.

What’s your advice? - Overwhelmed

Dear Overwhelmed,

The feelings you are experiencing would be normal from what you report as your many duties. However, I’m not sure why ceasing home-schooling would be your first option.

Deployment is a tough time for everyone, especially for the non-deployed parent who acquires all of the additional roles and duties. Conversely, deployment also brings opportunities for personal growth.

I think you should revisit with your husband the reasons you chose to home-school your children. For example, was the decision based on a personal decision, i.e., you wanted to be able to provide more one-on-one teaching? Was it a faith-based decision, or was it because of a special need your children have that you felt you could better address in a home-school environment? I’m sure there were many reasons for your decision.

Though I cannot make a decision for you, I think you will need to give careful consideration and discussions that should include your family, perhaps your pastor or clergy, a representative from your home-school network and the administrators of the school where you plan to transfer your children. I’m sure each school district has certain requirements that must be met before children are transferred.

I also think you should consider your many duties and ask yourself what is the least important.

A different school setting at this point may be too disruptive and impede academic and emotional growth for your children. I’m not implying that public school would not provide many educational opportunities and personal growth. However, your children need the consistency to which they have become accustomed at this time. Taking care of yourself and your family should be first. My first advice would be to relinquish some of the volunteer hours. Volunteering with the Family Readiness Group, etc., is important. However, everyone would understand if you are overwhelmed and need to discontinue some of the hours. Again, before you make your decision, consider talking to some of the people I listed above.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am worried about my older sister, and I hope you can give me some advice for her.

She has been divorced for almost three years. She works full time and has no outside interest other than her daughter, my 12-year-old niece.

I can understand being close to your children, but she does not give my niece any breathing room. It’s as if they have become best friends to the point that my niece’s friends and their parents have complained that my sister is always in their conversations and accompanies them everywhere.

My sister often puts herself on their level by carrying on conversations as if she is in middle school. She makes comments about who is the cutest boy in their school and which girls are not to be liked. It’s as if she is the leader of the middle-school clique. By the way, my sister is employed at my niece’s school.

How can I make my sister understand that she needs a life of her own, that she is being inappropriate and that my niece deserves to have her own life with friends of her age without her mother hosting weekend pajama parties? I know it’s been hard for my sister since her divorce, and I know there is nothing wrong with having a friendship with your children, but I think my sister has crossed the line. - Blues From An Older Sister

Dear Blues,

I concur with you and think you should address your concerns to your sister.

Let her know that you understand she recently had a difficult time with her divorce and that you understand life after divorce is an enormous adjustment. Conversely, you should list the examples you wrote to me - her hosting pajama parties, making comments about your niece’s male classmates and accompanying your niece on all of her outings. Tell her these are inappropriate activities and crossing these boundaries is not fair to your niece.

Enlist the support of other family members and friends to help your sister through this difficult time by inviting her to dinner and movies and hosting parties in her honor. Also help her discover her talents and other interests and hobbies she should pursue.

I know your sister needs to work to support her family financially. However, working in the middle school with your niece is probably causing her some inner pain. For this reason, I think she should consider switching to a different school. I’d like to hear the outcome. Keep in touch.

• Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her Dear Ms. Vicki column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at dearmsvicki@yahoo.com.

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