Sage Advice: Chronic Lateness Is Chronically Annoying

By Amy Dickinson | October 24th, 2018

A new family member can never seem to arrive on time ... and her family is less than impressed


Late! Image

Dear Amy: We have an ongoing problem occurring in our family. I have one daughter-in-law who is chronically late for everything. If we are supposed to be somewhere at two, that is when she starts getting ready.

Her mother is also always late, so I know it is a learned problem.

My son has discussed this with her, but nothing has changed. Without being an interfering mother-in-law, I would like to address this with love. Do you have any helpful suggestions for me?

– Prompt In-Law

Dear Prompt: In my (very prompt) family, we dealt with one chronically late member by simply starting things on time, and tolerating the late family member, who basically seemed to run on a different time zone. When this family member hosted events, we turned up when she asked us to.

I believe that tolerating this while not letting it interfere too much with your own plans (and happiness) is the way to respond to this — with love. So is simply telling the truth: “Dear, you always seem to be running late. This can be hard on the rest of us. Will you try harder to be prompt for family events?”

Always take separate transportation, and accept that in this regard, she is unreliable.

I find chronic lateness disrespectful, but I also realize that it doesn’t seem to be personally directed.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2018 by Amy Dickinson

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