While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On getting through to your teenager without harping • One thing my father did all throughout my teen years was take a walk with me after dinner. He said HE needed to get some more exercise and was more likely to get it if he had company. I enjoyed having 45 minutes of his time every night. I knew I would have a chance to talk to my Dad every evening. More to the point, I knew that time was important to him. I was important to him.
I was very fortunate to have a mother whom I called the "Kitchen Table Psychologist," because she was able to tap into our emotions to enable us to "vent." She was nonjudgmental and understood the basic need to express our emotions, and perhaps problem-solve, but as soon as the words were out the "problems" were lessened by just putting them out on the table. She would usually end the discussion with a humorous anecdote, usually about herself, and we would have a good laugh at the end of the conversation. That was so great to have.
On all those evil mothers-in-law • Admittedly, I was not close to my husband's mother, but I always was respectful, patient and kind to her, given that she was the mother of my spouse and grandmother of our children. Now that I am of age to become a grandmother, I see the other side and am much more sympathetic to all the older moms out there who maybe feel a little lost, a bit lonely. Aging can be a scary process, and having to redefine oneself and find new ways to find purpose can be daunting as people age. While certainly those buttinsky mothers-in-law need to be dealt with using a firm hand, I do wish young moms would understand that the way you feel about your babies and little ones is just how we felt about our children, who are now all grown up and who may have forgotten there was once a close bond between us. Sure, establish healthy boundaries, young moms, but please show a little compassion and understanding.
Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.