Dear Amy: Mom wears PJs to dinner

Dear Amy: How does one tell a nearly 80-year-old woman that coming to the dinner table in pajamas is not acceptable in our home?

We have a parent living with us. "Mom" is very helpful around the house, pulls her fair share of the chores and has a heart of gold, but every afternoon, she puts on her pajamas and often puts her hair in curlers.

We don't think she realizes how ridiculous she looks.

How do we deal with this without hurting her feelings? We've made comments and jokes, but it just goes right over her head.

We've thought of inviting our neighbors over for a drink or telling mom we're going out for dinner whenever she appears in her nocturnal attire.

SORE EYES

Amy says: Joking or attempting to embarrass "Mom" by inviting a neighbor over for drinks while she is in her jammies is hardly respectful. You seem too afraid of hurting her feelings to have a conversation with her about this, though you're considering humiliating her.

You could say, "Mom, I have a favor to ask. Could you stay dressed in your street clothes through dinner? I know you need to do your hair, but maybe that could wait until after dinner, too."

It might help if you could take her shopping to find a track suit or other casual outfit; that way, if she wants to change in the late afternoon, she will have something pajama-like that would also be acceptable at the table.

Night owl seeks space

Dear Amy: I'm going to be a senior in high school this year. I live in a family of seven with only three bedrooms in the house, so I share a room with my two brothers. One is in high school and one is in college.

We all have a different idea of when to go to sleep.

Now that it's summer, I have no obligation or reason to get up early. I like staying up -- to the extreme of sleeping between 3 to 4 a.m. and noon to 1 p.m. I usually spend the last hours before I go to sleep on my laptop.

My brothers have expressed their annoyance at this because they like to go to bed at midnight.

This has also caused problems during the school year because often I don't get home after school until late because of work and/or activities, and when I go to my room to get my homework done, I find the light off and my brothers asleep. Then I have to lock myself in the bathroom to find a place with light.

I want to get my own room, but all the rooms in our house are taken. What should I do?

NIGHT OWL IN THE MIDWEST

Amy says: Your family's need and right to a good night's sleep should trump your desire to stay up until all hours and then sleep half of the day away.

You need to have some structure to your summer days that would require you to get up in the morning: If you don't have to work, I vote for mowing lawns, riding your bike, skateboarding or painting the porch.

At night, you should always use earphones with your laptop. You might also want to get one of those little clip-on lights that affixes to the top of your laptop.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Av., Chicago, IL 60611.

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