DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a dilemma with my husband about how to have our children refer to the woman who cleans our house. I believe “housekeeper” is a polite term for what she does. My husband, however, says “cleaning lady” is the description of her job. I would feel bad if she heard my children calling her the cleaning lady. This just seems like a lowly term to me, but my husband says I am being too sensitive. I want this woman to feel good about coming to our house. She does not do more than keep everything neat and clean, but I believe she keeps the house tidy so she should be called a “housekeeper.” Is calling someone a cleaning lady offensive, or is it simply describing a job? – No Scrubs, Baltimore

DEAR NO SCRUBS: What does she call herself? That would be a great place to start. If you don’t know, ask her. Your husband is not wrong, but honestly, this has more to do with tone than words. I imagine you are extremely grateful for the woman who cleans your home. When you and your family refer to her or introduce her, make sure that you do so with the respect that you have for her role in your home. A twist on your husband’s description may be, “This is Rose (or whatever her name is). She is the lady who keeps our home in order.” Or “She is the lady who cleans our home.” Like you, I prefer “housekeeper.” To that end, you can still call her that and encourage your children to do the same. Your husband can make a separate choice.

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DEAR HARRIETTE: I am an athlete on a great team. We spend money throughout the year on transportation, training and additional coaching. Although there’s a financial strain, all the athletes love our sport. Our coach, however, expects extravagant gifts for occasions throughout the season, including her birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and the end of the season. Previous teams have made it a tradition to give her items from Tiffany & Co., so that is why she expects expensive gifts. I think this should change because any gifts she buys us are funded by the team bank account, and four presents is a lot. We appreciate our coach, but we don’t really have the funds to give her all of these presents she’s come to expect. Should we explain to her that we are downsizing her presents to cards and two nice ones or just go ahead and make the changes to save money? – Gift Gamble, Racine, Wisconsin

DEAR GIFT GAMBLE: Managing your coach’s expectations will be tricky at best. Given her history, she has grown accustomed to being courted in lavish ways. You may want to consider giving her one large gift and the rest much smaller tokens of your appreciation. Get creative with them, though, so that she knows you care. Ideas range from a book you think she would love to read (maybe signed by the author) to a gift certificate for a spa treatment. Yes, a heartfelt card is nice, too. Rather than apologizing about what you can’t do, just create new traditions that you can afford and offer the gifts with full gratitude.

— Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.