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Temper tantrums and Thais
Dear Emma,
I am married to a local Thai lady and we have a lovely 3 year old son who is taking an extended time to get over his terrible twos! My mother in law often takes care of him since my wife and I both work.
Lately my son has taken to hitting me, hitting his mother and his grandmother. I could not figure out what was bringing on this radical change in behavior, he seemed to think it was perfectly acceptable to hit even though he has been taught it is not ok.
Well, it turns out my mother in law is teaching him! One day he walked into the corner of the table and banged his head badly. I caught my mother in law taking his hand and using it to hit the table and saying, bad table in Thai!
I can’t believe she thinks this is acceptable or that she doesn’t grasp the connection between this action and his new behavior. How do I approach my mother in law with this and make her stop? I don’t want to have to hire a carer but if this continues I will be forced to restrict her access to our son. My wife seems to think it is no big deal but clearly it is. I need them both to understand that I will not tolerate this.
Frustrated dad
Dear Dad,
Well, you are going to have to first explain to your wife how this is a bad thing and why you do not want your son to be taught that the solution to a conflict is to hit someone. If she cannot make the connection then you will have to lay it out for her clearly. Then you will need to make it very clear to her that the behavior on the part of her mother must stop or you will take action and then let her talk to her mother herself. Surely they will both mutter about how crazy you are but if they respect you at all, they will heed your wishes.
If they do not, then take your child out of the mother-in-law’s care and into that of someone who raises your child in an acceptable way.

Once a cheater always a cheater?
Dear Emma,
I met this beautiful girl, she is so sweet and lovely but she started seeing me while she was still in a relationship with another man. First she told me that it was over but that she hadn’t the heart to tell him but I realized after a while that wasn’t true and she was cheating on him and lying to him about her whereabouts.
Now I fear she will do the same to me. I can’t seem to overcome my suspicion of her and distrust that every time she goes out it is to see another man, or that every phone call she receives is another lover.
I don’t know what to do. I love her very much but this jealousy is killing me.
Dear Jealous,
My salty old grandfather used to say, “You never know what is going on in another man’s head or another man’s bed”. You do not know what led to the breakdown of her previous relationship or why she cheated. She could be a serial cheater or she could have felt trapped in a loveless relationship with no real idea how to end it.
Either you give her the benefit of the doubt and stop making yourself crazy with jealousy and paranoia and let the relationship grow or you end it now because you can never get over your fear. You decide how important she is to you and what you can live with.

Chatty Cathy on the phone
Dear Emma,
I confess, I hate talking on the phone. I do have a mobile like everyone but most of the time people call and talk and talk with no idea that they are cutting into my work. I work from home and there seems to be this notion that it is not a “real job” so my time is free. This is not true, my time is quite valuable but one particular friend, whom I actually quite like, does not seem to grasp this at all and calls me about the most inane things and for quite a long time too. I don’t want to hurt his feelings but it is cutting into my work. How do I tell him I am busy?
Busy doing something
Dear Busy,
You sound as though you are a very kind and patient person but there must come a time in your life when you stand up for yourself over things like this and it sounds as though the time is now. You have two options; do not answer when he calls or simply tell him. Something along the lines of “John, thank you so much for calling and I am so glad to hear about your new goldfish but I am afraid I am terribly busy right now and will have to run.”
If you think this simple comment will hurt his feelings then he needs to grow slightly thicker shell. I can’t imagine a true friend would be so selfish as to not care about your time.