Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Are There Boarding Schools for Stepchildren in America?

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Q: I have met the love of my life. He is perfect. He’s a widower with a good job, a great house and a killer car. I have the most wonderful time when I am with him. The only problem is his three kids. They are spoiled brats. They’re whiney and demanding. If we can’t get one of the relatives to babysit, we’re stuck with them. If we get married, I’ll be stuck with them all the time while he is at work. I know this is America but do we have any boarding schools like they have in Europe?

A: It sounds to me like this ‘perfect love of your life’ is perfect because of what he has, not necessarily who he is. When you make the final decision about marriage, it should never be based on his house and his car. It seems like a pretty flimsy reason for love and marriage. There are significantly more important things to consider when planning your future with this man. The most important are the children. These children are his children. Does he think they are whiney and demanding? They’ve lost their mother. Are you planning to take away their father too? When you marry, you never just marry the man. You marry his children, his ex-wife (in your case his deceased wife), his relatives, his friends, his pets and all his emotional baggage. To make a success of the marriage, you have to be ready to weave the issues of his life into the issues of your life. From the sound of your email, you need to gain a little more maturity before you’ll be able to do that. For everyone’s sake – especially those children – it might be best if you spent a couple of years growing up before you plan on marriage.

Angry Husband

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Q: My wife can’t stop complaining no matter what I do. She yells because the garage is a mess. So I move stuff into the living room so I can organize the garage. Now she’s yelling because there’s stuff in the living room and I’m watching tv. Big deal! I work fulltime. I’m tired. I’ll do it later. She comes in here yelling at me so I told her to ___ off. Now she’s probably off running up the credit cards. I think I’m just going to sit here and get drunk. Serves her right.

A: Apparently, you feel that getting drunk will annoy your wife as much as her running up the credit cards annoys you. It seems to me that – if the two of you continue on this path – you’ll be in bankruptcy court very soon. Then you can argue that it’s her fault because she ran up the credit card bills and she can blame you for spending your entire paycheck on alcohol. If you like that option, just keep on moving as you’re doing now. If you’d like to have a happier ending, I suggest you learn how to communicate with one another. Communication requires more than just the ability to use words. Any two-year-old can do that. Since you’re the one writing, I’m going to make some suggestions for you. First, it’s important that you let your wife know that you see her point of view. Second, you need to be able to calmly let her know where you are coming from. And, finally you need to suggest a solution to the problem that will be agreeable to both of you. (Another little hint: When communicating with your wife, SHUT THE TELEVISION OFF. There is nothing on that television that won’t show up as a rerun someday. And there is nothing on tv as important as your marriage.) So contact your wife and tell her something like this: “Honey, I know you are upset about the mess in the living room. I appreciate the fact that you want to give us a nice looking home. Right now I am tired from working all day and need to relax for a little while. I promise I will get this job done. Will it work for you if I spend ½ hour a day on the garage during the work week and three to four hours a day on the week-end until the job is done?“ If this isn’t a compromise you like, then find one. And be prepared for her to come up with her own compromise. If she does, try to keep calm. Just remember your three steps in communication and keep talking until you find the solution.

Wedding Guest Dilemna

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Q:I am a sophomore in college this year. I have been staying with my father this summer. I have mostly lived with him as I have been growing up. He has had a lot of different girlfriends, some who have lived with us, and two that I have close relationships with. I am getting married next summer and want to invite some of my father’s old girlfriends to the wedding. His new girlfriend, who is almost my age, is really upset. My father hasn’t said  much. Do you think I should?

A: I think that this is your wedding and the people that have been close to you should be invited to help you celebrate this occasion. If your father objected to his old girlfriends attending you might want to give it further thought. After all, your parents are the ones who have always had your best interests at heart. They are also the ones who have been with you all your life and will continue to do so as long as they live. Since he doesn’t seem to be objecting, I would say go ahead with your plans to invite whomever you choose.

Lung Cancer Hurts

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Q: My mother has passed away. I loved her very much but I am so angry with her. She died of lung cancer at 52 years of age. She wouldn’t stop smoking and now my children will never know their grandmother. Please tell people to stop smoking.

A: I am sorry to hear about your mother. And, yes, I will add my voice to yours and the others who are begging their loved ones to stop smoking. I would also like to encourage you to find a support group that can help you through the loss of your mother. If you don’t know of one, please ask your pastor or priest for a referral. If you are not a member of a church, most health insurances have mental health options. If your insurance does, go see a counselor who can direct you to a support group. Losing a loved one is never easy. Please don’t try to go it alone.

Partying Son

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Q: I have a wonderful 30-year-old son. He is a college graduate, living in his own apartment. He visits his dad and I regularly and is so loving to us. My concern is that he continues to party like he is still in college. I know he has gone to work a few times when he is hung over. I am concerned that he is going to lose his job. What do you think?

A: He doesn’t sound to me like he is quite ready to settle down into the adult world. As his mother, the only thing you can do is suggest to him that he limit his partying to week-ends before he loses his job. (You don’t mention alcoholism in your family so I’m assuming we’re dealing with an immaturity issue here.) The trick with dealing with adult children is learning to state your opinion and then walk away. As someone who loves him, you do need to mention the ditches he’s about to drive into. But he is an adult. If he wants to drive into that ditch, you can’t stop him. Just give your advice and then don’t worry about whether or not he accepts it. He’ll either learn from what you have to say or learn from the school of hard knocks. Either way, he is a college graduate, so we know he’ll eventually learn.

Replacing Random Dishes

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Q: Our whole family got together at my mother’s house for dinner recently. She is getting up in years and likes to have the family together as often as possible. While I was cleaning up, I dropped one of her ‘good’ china plates and broke it. These so-called china plates are actually plates she bought from Kmart when my brothers and I were younger. But they are her ‘good’ dishes and she pulls them out whenever she has company. She’s all upset because she no longer has a service for twelve which she needs when we all get together. Kmart no longer sells this particular set. I can’t find any reference to them on the internet. Do you have any suggestions on how to replace a random plate?

A: My first suggestion is to just get her a different set of plates. Since she isn’t asking for actual china plates, it can’t be too expensive to find her another set of ‘good’ dishes. However, if she’s getting up in years, she may have a sentimental attachment to these dishes. So there are several possible places to look for a replacement. There is the ever-popular garage sale and flea market option. Also, thrift stores are a good place to look for miscellaneous pieces to match your dishes. Another possibility is craigslist. If you haven’t heard of it, it is a nationwide internet list that allows free for-sale ads and wanted ads. Just type in ‘craigslist’ in your search engine and the name of your town for your local ads. You can take a picture of the other plates in your mom’s set and put in a wanted ad. There is no cost and you can continuously update it until you find what you want. You can also check their ads to see if anyone already has a set like this they are trying to sell. I have used this site myself many times and find it to be very helpful.

Dating at 13

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

(This email has been modified. It was sent in the text message style which is a little difficult for us grandma’s to read. I imagine it can be for others also. I believe I got the gist of it right. Also, please remember when emailing, this is a family site. Profanity will be deleted. If there is too much profanity, I may delete the entire email. Mom)

Q: My parents are being completely unreasonable. They say I am too young to date a 16 year old. I am 13 and everyone says I am mature for my age. He and I were having a great time together until they found out. I figure you’re a mom and they might listen to you if you tell them they are being unreasonable. Can you send me an email for them?

A: Actually, I think you are the one being unreasonable. Dating at 13 is way too young in my opinion. When you are just entering adolescence, your body is changing and hormones are causing you to have major mood swings. You need to give yourself time to adjust to these changes before you start complicating things with emotional attachments to boys. Also, it sounds to me like you knew your parents wouldn’t approve. You said they ‘found out’. Were you sneaking around behind their backs? Another thing. Sixteen is too old for a 13-year-old. I suggest you and your parents sit down together and set up a list of rules for dating. That would be the mature thing for you to do. The more you are responsible and follow the rules they set down, the more they will give you space to make your own choices.

Lowering Your Grocery Bill Suggestion

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Q: I have a suggestion for the person who is trying to save money on groceries. I don’t have time to clip coupons so I buy extras of things that are on sale. If you do that, you won’t have to pay full price when you need something.

A: That is a very good suggestion. When I was preparing for the Y2K non-event, I began watching the sales and buying extras of items we used a lot. With a teen-age son who played sports and worked out constantly, I wanted to be sure I had plenty for him in an emergency. I was amazed at how quickly my food bill dropped just from this small adjustment. So thanks for the suggestion!

Unwelcome Visitors

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Q: My mother-in-law is coming to visit. I have a very stressful job and really don’t feel up to company. Especially her. The last time she was here she re-arranged my cupboards. She said they weren’t efficient! I agree they are faster and easier to get to now but it took me almost all year to be able to find things. My husband is thrilled she’s coming so no excuse I can think of will keep her away. Do you have any ideas?

A: I think the real reason you don’t want to see your mother-in-law is that she makes you feel like a child. Telling you how to arrange your cupboards must seem just like your mother telling you how to clean your room. You’re an adult now and interactions such as these can be frustrating. The best way to keep your mother-in-law from mothering you is to keep her busy doing other things. Does she like to shop? Are there nearby local attractions such as aquariums, waterfront areas, specialized shopping? Are there interesting places to take her to dinner (and keep her from doing your dishes!). Get creative. I’m sure there are dozens of things to keep her busy and out of your cupboards.


Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Q: My sister wants to home school my nephew. What can we do about this?

A: Go with your sister! Pull out your pom poms and start cheering her on. If you were hoping for a different answer, you’ve come to the wrong person. I am a strong believer in the potential of home-schooling. Anyone capable of home-schooling a child – especially one who marches to the beat of a different drummer – has my admiration and support. A home-schooled child has the advantage of a program specifically designed for them with a teacher in a classroom of one. This individualized program insures that the child will learn without the humiliation of making mistakes that classmates can target. If you are concerned about your nephew’s socialization, let me assure you that home schooling families have banded together in nearly every state to offer extracurricular activities to their children. In my area, home-schoolers have a sports program allowing children to play basketball from ages 9 and up in a competitive arena with other home school groups and with private schools. There is also a band and choir available for students in 5th grade and up. These groups give twice a year concerts. I have heard of individual groups banding together for high school curriculum so that parents not well-versed in math, English, foreign languages, etc., can get together with those who are and trade their expertise. This allows the student to be placed in a small class of 5 or 6 students to learn a subject their parent can’t teach them. This type of training is certainly preferable to the 30 students per teacher in the public schools. If you are concerned that your sister doesn’t have a teaching degree or any college degree, let me assure you that most home schooling parents don’t have those degrees and yet their children routinely rate higher on standardized tests then do their public school counterparts. Finally, if you are worried he will not have the fun of school parties, dances, etc, home-schooling groups again have stepped up to create opportunities for their children. The grade school group in my area meets once a month at a local library where holidays are celebrated. Another group arranges school dances for their students, and almost all groups I know of have graduation ceremonies for the students whose families are in their group. So are there reasons why I think home-schooling could be a bad idea? Yes. The parent who is teaching their child at home because they feel pressure from others to do so will pass on a negative experience to their child. In this case, they should be encouraged to send their child back to school. There is also the parent who has been watching one to many reality television shows and thinks that home-schooling is the chic thing to do. I’m not too worried about their children. Once that parent realizes the huge workload involved, they’ll return their child to the more traditional setting. The biggest concern I would have about home-schooling, is the parent who is hiding their child from public view for some reason. Those are the children who are at-risk in my opinion. If none of those reasons apply to your family, just sit back and be thankful your sister is a committed parent working for what she believes is in the best interest of her child.