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Dear Abby: Paying grandma for child care becomes divorce war weapon

Dear Abby: My daughter and her husband are divorced, and I take care of their twin daughters after school. I love the girls and treasure the time I get to spend with them.

Their parents’ combined income is more than $120,000. I am on a fixed income and ask for only $10 per day (plus $10 a week for gas) so I can take the girls places like the zoo or an occasional movie (which usually costs more than I am given). I feed them one meal a day on this budget as well.

Whenever discussions about money occur, the ex-husband repeatedly tells my daughter he thinks it’s “offensive” that a grandparent charges money to watch the grandchildren. He uses it as a tactic to threaten to not pay for other needed expenses. How do I tell him I think he’s out of line for making me feel bad for requesting the money?

– Stunned And Hurt In Tempe, Ariz.

Dear Stunned And Hurt: Your former son-in-law should be ashamed of himself.

If he raises the subject of being “offended” with you, remind him in PLAIN ENGLISH that you are on a limited income, food is expensive and if the money wasn’t NEEDED you wouldn’t ask for it. It’s the truth. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and certainly not offensive.

Let’s do the math: Your granddaughters go to school five days a week; that’s $50, plus $10 a week for gas. That’s $60! If they were in day care instead of being looked after by you, the cost would be many times that amount.

Boss’ health worries assistant

Dear Abby: A few years ago, my boss passed away after a long illness. My 13 years with her accounted for the longest consistent span of my career, and for obvious reasons, I was not able to get a letter of recommendation. It was difficult applying for jobs without being able to provide a firsthand reference from my longest employer.

I am now happily employed, but I worry sometimes about what if it happens again. My current boss is in his early 50s, but not in the best health. I have no intention of going anywhere, and I don’t want to send him the wrong signal, but I’m wondering if it would be inappropriate to ask him for a reference letter, just to make sure I don’t find myself in the same situation again. He knows about my former situation, so I think he would understand, but I’m not sure.

– Executive Assistant In Georgia

Dear Executive Assistant: I do not think it would be a good idea to approach your boss about giving you a letter of reference. It might be regarded as a signal that you are not happy with your job. And, because of fear of litigation, many employers today are reluctant to give out any information about an employee other than the length of time the person worked for the company.