I have a part-time job taking care of an older gentleman who is disabled. He is very pleasant and interesting, and for the most part I like my job.
There is just one problem. After I bathe him, he wants me to put lotion on his genitals. When I do it, he tells me how good it feels. He has noticed my embarrassment and has said that it is just part of the human body. He also tells me that he likes me doing this because I do it "better than anyone has before."
I have tried to think about it as just a part of the job, but frankly, this situation makes me very uncomfortable, and now I dread going to his house.
I live with my boyfriend, whom I love very much. I have not discussed this with him because I'm too embarrassed and I'm afraid he would get upset. What should I do?
- Uncomfortable in Corpus Christi
DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: You did not mention exactly how disabled your employer is. If he is physically able to apply the lotion himself, then that's what he should be doing.
If not, then it's time to inform your employer that you are no longer comfortable bathing him and therefore he should hire a male bath attendant. Frankly, what you have described sounds more like erotic massage than regular caregiving, and your feelings are valid.
DEAR ABBY: Every year, when our family gathers for Christmas, my father's wife, "Marian," brings her camera along. She takes pictures of all the kids, and then asks the "non-O'Brien" kids to step aside so she can snap a photo of "just the O'Briens."
One of my brothers has a wife with a son from a previous relationship, and another brother is with a lady who has two children from a previous union. The kids call my parents "Papa" and "Nana" and get upset about being excluded from the photos. Their moms feel the same.
When it happened two years ago, my brother said that if she did it again he would say something. I know I should have talked to Marian and told her not to single out the children, but I didn't want to be put on the spot.
Well, it did happen again - last Christmas - and an argument broke out. There were many hurt feelings. Marian said she had done nothing wrong and demanded an apology from my brother. He felt quite the opposite.
Abby, my family lost a baby to SIDS and our mother to cancer at 47. Life is too short to live this way. How can I tell them that no one is right and we're all wrong? Please help!
- Has Issues in New Hampshire
DEAR HAS ISSUES: Who elected Marian the official family photographer in the first place? Perhaps if more people brought cameras to these family get-togethers and snapped pictures, Marian's insensitivity would be less glaring.
This mess will be straightened out faster if you speak to both your brother and Marian and admit your role in it by not speaking up when you should have. Although I can understand Marian's wish for a picture reflecting the "family bloodline," she's ignoring the fact that the
"O'Briens" are a blended family - with an emphasis on the word family - and her membership rules are so stringent that even she doesn't qualify.