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May 15, 2018
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I am a 41 and a housewife living in a joint family. My mother-in-law had the charge of our house until...

Dear Professor,

I am a 41 and a housewife living in a joint family. My mother-in-law had the charge of our house until she had a stroke and I took it over. My husband is the only son and has two married sisters who visit very often because they live quite close to our house. Since my parents-in-law are the eldest, we get a lot of guests. There are three servants to do the household work, but since my mother-in-law became ill, they have become very slack. We run out of groceries before the month ends and that never used to happen before.The servants swear they are not stealing, and I am very worried. My husband says I can't run the house, and maybe he is right. I don't know how to manage the servants. They are old hands and are trusted by my in-laws. If I turn them out, I will have to explain the reason, and my sisters-in-law would create a big fuss. Please tell me how to handle this situation.

Harassed Housewife

Dear Harassed Housewife,

Even old and trusted servants need supervision. Your mother-in-law must have been a good manager, so the servants were doing their job smoothly. However, a little vigilance will get the job done. First off, make sure that your grocery for the month is kept in a locked pantry and divide the servants’ duties. Your mother-in-law must have done it, and you can either continue with her arrangement, or do things your way. Just let them know you mean business and will not let them cut corners. Tell them if things run out before time without a good explanation, you will be forced to take sterner measures. So, take stock of provisions every day. Let them understand that you will not let anyone take advantage of the situation, and things will be fine. Good luck!

Problems that need a solution? You can e-mail Prof. Nadine Khan at [email protected]