By Debra Darvick
By Debra Darvick

Dear Debra


Gotta burning question you want answered? Send it to and be sure to look for Debra’s reply in the next Red Thread.

Dear Debra: My spouse’s parents play favorites with their grandchildren, and my children are starting to notice, asking why their bubbie and zayde don’t pay the same kind of attention to them as they do to their cousins (and it’s not that these other grandchildren need them more for any apparent reason).  How should we handle this? Joseph, Not

Dear Not,

Familial favoritism should be the 11th Thou Shalt Not. Has your husband discussed with his parents that the children have noticed the favoritism? If 1) he has and they haven’t changed or 2) he cannot or will not bring it up, then you have to take the many-colored coat by the sleeves. Invite the grandparents to share a new family tradition — a weekly Skype or family outing. If they remain scarce, you will have to help your children learn a painful and important life lesson: Their grandparents’ behavior has nothing to do with them. They are the biggest losers for missing out on joyous time with some pretty terrific grandkids. 

Dear Debra: Despite economic struggles over the past few years, we have done our best to pay our full synagogue dues … going without extra vacations, etc., to do what we feel is right. Yet we have met people who “brag” about their reduced dues — and take fabulous trips, remodel their homes, etc. Shall we “report” them to our synagogue?  Fit to be Tithed 

Dear Fit,

Such freeloading behaviors generate well-deserved resentment. If you can muster the necessary calm and matzah balls, ask the braggarts, “How do you justify asking your synagogue to subsidize such extravagant expenditures? You must not realize how many congregants go without such extras in order to support their synagogue.”

If that’s too brash for comfort, gently mention that their subvention means less for the truly needy, for programming, maintenance and other budget items. As for tattling, this issue is not uncommon to executive directors, who take each member’s statement of ability to pay at face value. You might gain momentary pleasure, but know the institutional approach errs on the side of non-judgment, allowing guilt to take care of the rest. 

SleeplessDear Debra: My husband’s work expects him to be available 24/7. He sleeps with the phone beside the bed to catch incoming texts. The problem is he doesn’t hear them come in; I do. By the time I wake him to take the text, I can’t fall back asleep. Help! Sleepless in Southfield

Dear Sleepless,

Even the Creator of the World granted Himself weekly rest after Her labors were completed! Set hubby’s phone to vibrate and slip it into his pillowcase. If the sound of the incoming text doesn’t stir him, the motion might. You can also sweetly whisper as he is falling asleep that you are turning his phone off (but don’t). Perhaps the anxiety of missing an emergency text will prompt some part of his sleeping brain to keep one eye (or ear) open so you can keep both of yours shut.  RT

Red Thread’s new advice columnist, Debra Darvick, is a longtime Detroiter with Southern roots.


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