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ThatRandomJanitor

Professional Boundaries?

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While at work my wife asked if she could watch someone's kids overnight. Thinking she met our daycare providers kids I responded yes (they both have same first name). Instead if was her co-workers. Apparently the alcoholic dad has randomly disappeared and the wife had to work. My wife is the asst. store manager and I am also the woman's tax preparer. I've only met the husband once and he was drunk. I find this to an overstep of boundaries that are unwritten. Now my night becomes hell because of a damn alcoholic that won't grow up and be an actual adult.

I've brought this issue up with my wife but she enables this time and time again watching the kids randomly and even covering for this person. Professionally I see this highly unethical and just stupid. I'm at the point of pulling the dad aside and telling him to get his S together but I find it highly unethical and a cross of boundaries professionally.

Suggestions/thoughts?

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Helping someone in a bind is never a bad thing. That being said, this sounds like a situation where you want to help but only if conditions are met. Eg. he gets help, she gets help,  or they are doing something to right their situation. It sucks because kids are involved; which hopefully someday the father will recognize.  Bottom line is the kids come first, both the mother and father need to man up to the situation. You and your wife will continue to be used out convenience either because the father or mother or both don’t want to deal with the situation the right way. I will pray for you.

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I don't think any professional boundaries have been crossed. Helping another person because they are unable to get to work for a (unspecified) reason is just being a decent (though in this day and age - excellent) human being. If in the course of lending help you discovered the lady was taking in money from a side job but wasn't reporting it on her taxes... THAT would be a professional boundaries/ethics situation.  

Rather I think you are having a personal boundaries issue: As the "objective" outsider, you "know" how this works. Your wife help out, the drunk comes back, everything is "good", drunk walks out, your wife feels "obligated to help" because she did before, and once again your life is in flux.  Rinse and repeat, amiright?

Yes, you and the wife need an understanding on how to proceed if this event happens in the future.  It is unfair to you and your family to drop everything because some random guy needs help. But we all know life isn't fair - so make a plan. Suggestions include - work with your wife to agree that she must let the other lady know your wife is NOT the "oh no, he left again, let me call (your wife) to fix it" person. This other lady needs to take ownership of her situation. The other lady needs to do something. As she seems unready to tackle her husband issue, she has to have backups in place.  Your wife could give her names and numbers of babysitters she knows, do a google search of local child care facilities that take walkins, etc. and give it to the other lady.  This is a definite way to show "I care, but I can't do it for you." 

The challenge will be the next time the other lady calls AFTER she has been "empowered." That's between you and the wife - do you give the other lady one more "emergency help chance" and then say no more or immediately after giving her the information do you cut her off? When you cut her off (whenever that is) hand her info on alcoholic recovery programs - AA and true clinical options in the local area.  The other lady might get so embarrassed that she never calls again... hell, she might give it to her husband. 

In the end, as much as I hate to say it, unless this is a good friend of your wife, I would not put too much effort into helping this other lady long term if she doesn't take the steps to help herself. Be decent, be compassionate, but be firm and focus on the critical elements of your life - your family and close friends.  Give the other lady tools to help herself but then you have to walk away. Otherwise, it won't end until the drunk either goes into recovery or he leaves/is kicked out.  

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I can understand the line of thinking, but in this world of interconnectedness, i don't think of it as a hard and fast rule.  The key is having limits - if the limit is a solid NEVER, then that's the limit. 

Keep in mind the perspective of grandfathers work view: the old days of "work" meant you did 20 to 40 years with a company, had good benefits for your family, retired, and got a pension. That created lifelong friends within the "employees" that relationships with "bosses" wasn't needed or sought after.

Today, the average worker stays with a company for less than 5 years, benefits are more sparse, pensions aren't a thing, and employee perks means a coffee pot provided in the break room (but you have to buy the coffee...)

Being human makes life a little less miserable. I tend to lean that way until I have a reason not to 😉

 

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Very true.

Seems a bit odd but back in 2012 when I was working for actual contractee for contractor I am at now seemed like the old school method was still in place. Literally blue hats (management) had special parking and tensions always ran high with union. Now is 2018 only special parking is for USDA and some office employees and blue hats often eat with regular employees. Lots of change in such a short time.

Gotta admit I am a bit out of touch with the trends...I need an update

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