Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you make the most of staying home.
Visit the hub

Motortion/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

My mother-in-law asked to have my nine-year-old son over, and despite my misgivings about coronavirus, I agreed. When I picked him up she had a cousin over, and they were not physical distancing. I was furious and screamed at her. Then my father-in-law got into it telling me that I’ve been horrible to his wife for 20 years (which may be true). Now I feel terrible, but I’m still angry.

There’s very little doubt to me that everyone’s mind is collectively bending into a pretzel because of the way 2020 has unfolded so far. Global pandemic out of nowhere, the prospect of a precipitous economic downturn, “murder wasps” and protests against police brutality.

Call it 2020-itis. Is it any wonder we’re all going a little barmy? My guess is 2020-itis may have been behind your hissy-fit with your mother-in-law. You need to walk that one back, as the fashionable neologistic phrase goes.

Story continues below advertisement

But first, I want to say I agree with your underlying sentiment. My wife says I’m “paranoid” about COVID-19. I prefer “prudent” (as I patiently explain to her, placing a latex-gloved hand on her shoulder and pulling down my mask for a quick kiss as I exit our domicile for the first time in a week).

Or maybe “careful” is the mot juste. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to be more careful and mindful in our everyday interactions with others.

It drives me crazy when people are all devil-may-care and loosey-goosey about physical distancing, mask-wearing and all the rest.

Businesses are shuttering, our children are staying home from school, we can’t go to restaurants or houses of worship or the hairdresser – and you’re just going to go ahead and flout the guidelines, with everything we now know?

Nevertheless, you can’t go screaming at anyone. There’s never any call for that. You have to apologize to your mother-in-law for that.

And it has to be unalloyed. Don’t allow the apology to tip over into self-justification. The mayor of my city was recently caught on camera maskless amid a throng at an overcrowded park. His apology was beautiful, I thought.

In effect, he said, I’m sorry, I made a mistake and I will try to do better in future.

Story continues below advertisement

Wouldn’t it be lovely if all politicians – indeed all people – uttered such humility-filled mea culpas?

Be like that with your mother-in-law: “I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I will try to do better in future.” Then, and only then, unpack your hopes (that she will also try to be better in tit-for-tat fashion) and fears (your family could get the virus).

If she demurs, disagrees and/or becomes disputatious, then I think you have every right to keep your son away from her devil-may-care, seat-of-the-pants household.

Maybe if she sees you’re serious, she’ll come around, smarten up and fly right. I wouldn’t advocate such a drastic move under normal circumstances, but these aren’t normal circumstances.

And then address your father-in-law’s contention that you’ve been “horrible” to his wife. That’s serious. If there’s any merit in it, then the three of you need to sit down and try to mend fences.

Sometimes a crisis can throw light on long-simmering tensions, which sounds like the case here.

Story continues below advertisement

If you can work out these long-running tensions, maybe all this meshugas will be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Are you in a sticky situation? Send your dilemmas to damage@globeandmail.com. Please keep your submissions to 150 words and include a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.

Sign up for the weekly Parenting & Relationships newsletter for news and advice to help you be a better parent, partner, friend, family member or colleague.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies