First of all, this may be a stupid idea on your son-in-law’s part, but it is not a decision he can solely ram through. I assume if he’s honest that it’s for sports purposes, he’ll be laughed out of the principal’s office. If he tries to make the case that your high-performing grandson has had such a bad year that it needs to be repeated, I also hope the administrators will pull your grandson’s transcript, show this is demonstrably wrong, and explain children are not held back unless there is a compelling reason. You mention you want to plead your case to your son-in-law. But I almost always suggest that in-law problems are best dealt with by having the blood relatives address the issue first. So you have to have a talk with your daughter, about whom you say nothing. Let’s hope she neither shares this silly fantasy, nor is so intimidated by her husband that she’s afraid to stop him. Try a calm discussion in which you say you understand the importance of sports, but you wanted to express your concern that this will be socially and academically damaging for your grandson. Say there’s nothing guaranteed to turn off a young boy to education more than having to relearn the same material unnecessarily. But let’s hope the educators in charge of making this decision see through your son-in-law’s destructive gambit.
I'm a young female doctor who's fairly new to the hospital where I'm doing my residency in pediatrics. Residency is brutally difficult, but I can handle it. What I'm having major difficulty with are the passive-aggressive nurses and secretaries who share my workspace. I'm barely 5 feet tall and look like a teenager. I’ve also never been good at dealing with the subtle drama that goes on between women. I find it really hard to do my job when the middle-aged nurses and secretaries question every order I give, force me to justify my orders, "forget" to do what I asked, or whisper among each other about whether or not I'm competent. They never do this to the staff doctors or male residents. They also do it to any young female who's starting out. They are not outwardly aggressive, so there is rarely a concrete incident I could document as proof. I should be able to talk to my program director about this, but she herself is a bully who delights in catching us making mistakes and in putting us down. I’ve got more than three years to go, but I cry for hours after every long, tiring shift. How do I deal with this?
To find a diagnosis for you, I turned to my friend, emergency physician Kerry Foley. She said she doesn’t doubt your account that the nurses and other staff can be passive aggressive, and maybe even more so to other females. She says that even when one is experienced and rested, these relationships can be difficult. But add the resident’s burden of being overworked, underpaid, eating dinner from a vending machine, and dealing with sick children, and that’s a recipe for tears. Foley advises the therapeutic shift of trying to see the world from the perspective of these middle-aged women. Foley says imagine what it’s like to have years of experience, then have to face a yearly troupe of newly minted doctors who arrive acting like the boss. She says in every new work situation she encountered it took her a while to earn the respect of the nursing staff. She suggests doing the following: Be kind to patients and their families; answer the phone at the desk sometimes when everyone is busy; help a patient to the bathroom on occasion; ask the nurses’ opinions about a clinical situation. She also suggests scheduling an appointment with the head nurse on your floor and asking, "What can I do to be a more effective member of this patient care team?" Foley says that young doctors have had their noses in books for so long that they often need to work on their people skills—you pretty much acknowledge this yourself. So try these suggestions and see if things don’t improve. She adds it couldn’t hurt to show up at the beginning of your next night shift with a plate of brownies for the hard-working staff.
More Dear Prudence Columns
“Sins of the Father: I think my dad has a secret love child. Should I confront him?” Posted Nov. 10, 2011.
“The Monotony of Monogamy: I married my first sexual partner, and now I’m itching to cheat.” Posted Nov. 3, 2011.
“Indecent Proposal: My colleagues are framing our boss for harassment. Should I expose their evil plot?” Posted Oct. 27, 2011.
“Bye-Bye Baby: My sister is making a huge mistake by placing her child for adoption.” Posted Oct. 20, 2011.
More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
“Morbid Memento?: Dear Prudence advises a woman whose fiance is too attached to his dead sister-in-law—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Nov. 14, 2011.
“Sniffing Out Trouble: Dear Prudence advises a woman who caught her fiance's dad in a sleazy act—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Nov. 7, 2011.
“Halloween Hangover: Dear Prudence advises a dad whose buddies hit the bottle too hard on the trick-or-treat trail—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Oct. 31, 2011.
“Sleeping With the Frenemy: Dear Prudence offers advice on confessing to an affair with a BFF's husband—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted Oct. 24, 2011.