Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Should I Lie To Spare My Sister's Feelings?

Dear Mom:

Should I say something to my sister who is thin but wears jeans so tight that they make her belly hang out?


Tummy Tucked

Dear Tucked:

This is one of those questions I believe most people would have the answer to, but far fewer would have the courage to act on. I hope this response will help you to act.

I remember once a few years ago a friend of mine came over to my house wearing the worst shade of lipstick I had ever seen. It was an orange rust color and looked terrible on her fair skin. She asked, "What do you think?" I didn't know what to say. Should I tell her the truth and hurt her feelings, forever distancing our friendship, or should I tell a little white lie and say the lipstick looked just fine?

I decided on the white lie. She put her hands on her hips and replied, "This is the ugliest lipstick I have ever worn! This was a test, and you failed!"

After being angry at her for playing such a trick on me, I began to see that what she wanted to know was if I would be truthful with her even when being truthful was difficult. If she couldn't trust me to tell the truth on the small stuff, how could our friendship weather the large ones?

Talk to your sister. Talk to her alone; not within a group where she is sure to be embarrassed. Sit down with her and spell it out. Not in so many words; the best ones; the words you'd want to hear if your belly was hanging out.

One of the best ways I know of to do this is called the sandwich trick, and is less like a trick and more like a way of smoothing things over a bit while you tell her.

A sandwich is made up of three parts-the bottom piece of bread, the inner layer and the top piece. First, tell her something positive; something you like about her. Add the inner layer, your concern. You might say, "You are so beautiful, but it's hard to see your beauty when you wear such tight pants and your belly hangs out." Finish your concern with the top piece of bread; another positive comment, so that your sister will know you're not just picking on her or something. Leave her knowing her self-esteem and your friendship is still in place.

Good luck!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dating Someone With Different Beliefs

Dear Mom:

I am a (non-practicing) LDS student dating an atheist. If I end up staying with him, will I end up hating him and myself?



Dear Stuck:

That you have this question in the first place gives me reason to believe you have some pretty heavy concerns about this relationship. If you had little or no concern, it would not have occurred to you that you might later hate him as well as yourself, bringing me to this question:

Do you believe in God?

I know this is a bold question, but it is the basis, whether you realize it or not, of your initial question. If you were an atheist as he is, there would be no concern. But because you have been taught Christian values through the LDS faith, this leads me to believe that some of these values still hold true for you-if not, again, you probably would not have asked this question.

As a Christian myself, I believe in God and that means I believe God is the driving force of things-nature, the human body, hope, faith and trust. He is the basis of my faith. Atheists, as I understand it, believe in nature, the human body, hope, faith and trust as they see it, and as they choose to live it. Some atheists believe in spiritualism within the constructs of their being; most don't believe in God at all.

While I am a firm believer in people choosing for themselves, I am also a firm believer in people being true to themselves; the cost is too high otherwise.

If you stay with him, you may later, when the romance has softened to a fine glow and you begin to relax a bit (because this always happens) find that the feelings within your heart are battling with the feelings of his heart. This doesn't mean you don't love him; even that you can't love him, but that this difference is driving a wedge between you. Being in a relationship is hard enough without having this additional splinter under the skin.

I have known people who have married outside of their faith. I know you are only dating, but "dating," as my mom always used to tell me, "leads to marriage." And you will "always marry someone you date." This is a fact that can't be disputed nor ignored.

Most of those who marry outside their faith are miserable. Sure, some of them still manage to hang on to the love they have for their spouse, but most (dare I say it?) run into major difficulties. The only thing that saves them is living a separate life (divorce), doing things of a spiritual nature, like attending church for example (alone) or choosing to follow in the footsteps of the other; letting go of what they believe.

Be true to yourself. If you can't talk about God now because you feel he will be offended; if you shy away from certain topics or find that you are listening to his feelings and feeling sick inside as you do so; if you are uncomfortable in any way, listen to those feelings. Be true to what you feel. If you're not true to yourself, you will end up hating him as well as yourself.



Saturday, June 20, 2009

Balancing school with work and fun

Dear Mom:

How do I balance full-time work and school and still have a social life?


So stressed I can hardly stand it

Dear Stressed:

I know just how you feel. No, I wasn't working, but one summer I was taking a three week anatomy and physiology class.

Okay, people warned me that it was going to be hard, and yes, I was told that the regular semester class was difficult, but I thought, "Three weeks and I'll be done! Anyone can handle three weeks!"

Every moment of my life was spent studying, sleeping or eating-okay, and peeing. There was not much time for anything else. I did have a column at the school paper, and the editing stuff I had to do, but truthfully? My plate was full. I'm glad it was only full for three weeks.

"What's normal?" you ask. Living a busy life, but not so busy that the most important things in life take the back seat; like friends, family and getting out and just having some fun. Sure, you won't be able to get out every night; that would be unrealistic, unless you don't care about getting good grades, and I am supposing you want good grades because of your question.

With that said let me suggest some pointers:

1. If you work full-time, cut down on your class load. If you're a brain, you might be able to handle it; if you're like the rest of us, it's truly not worth your insanity putting too much on your school plate.

2. On the other hand, you may be able to cut down a bit on your work hours. See what you can do to free up some more time for study and fun.

3. Balance your day with free time as much as possible. If you're studying becomes a five hour stint on Tuesday (your only day off) for example, try cutting it down to two and taking a half an hour break in-between. A half an hour in a full day will not hurt your grades and will give you that breather you need. Believe me, after awhile your brain shuts down anyway, so why not have some fun?

4. Have the courage to make changes when you know you are over your head. A friend of mine recently dropped a class because she knew she was quickly reaching her limit. Dropping a class doesn't mean you are dumb; just smart enough to take care of a potential problem before it becomes a real one.

5. Finally, remember you are in school, and with that comes sacrifice. When all is said and done, you will be spending less time with friends, family and all those fun events you wish you could go to until you have graduated. Fortunately, school doesn't last forever. I know it seems like it, but I also know that with a will comes a way, and the best way I know of to make the change from stress to success is to take an honest look at where you are now and what needs to happen to reach the finish line-in one piece.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Mom's Credibility

Dear Mom:

Are you really a mom? You don't look old enough. Well, at least not old enough to have teenagers.



Dear Curious:

You know what they say about what happened to the curious cat. Seriously though, yes, I am a mom, and I do have children-three girls to be precise. All three are married, the two oldest with children of their own. So yes, that also makes me a grandmother. I have four grandchildren; three granddaughters and one grandson. I had always heard that grandchildren were your reward for having successfully raised your children. I can believe it. It's like the bonus round or something. I can spoil them rotten, feed them all kinds of good stuff; like chocolate before dinner, and send them home without feeling even the remotest bit of guilt. It's taken me a long time to feel that.

I always feel good when someone guesses me younger than I am-also a bonus round. Thank you and keep reading.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Moving Back Home

Dear Mom:

I'm 25 years old and I've just had to move back with my parents. How do I balance my own life and own sense of individuality and still live with my parents and respect them and their rules?



Dear Frazzled:

Take a deep breath. Let the air out. Take another deep breath. Let it out. Okay. What you are doing is probably one of the most difficult things there is to do on this planet-second only to divorce. I should know, the first I have done; the second I have been close to doing because of the first.

When I lived in California and it became paramount that we return to Utah-I will spare you the grueling details-it also became necessary to live with my parents for a time. Neither my husband nor I had a job; we had just enough money to get here, and couldn't even think of renting a place without the well-needed cash. Without the help of my parents, I have no idea how our family would have been able to get back on our feet. With that said let me suggest something for which you are probably already well aware of: coming back home sucks. It's not that you don't love your parents; you do. It's not that you don't appreciate their willingness to help. It's just that you have some trouble coming back home and being treated like a kid again.

When I came back home with a husband and three children safely in tow, I met up with some surprises. My parents sat us down. They'd made a list of rules which we were expected to follow. This was fair; after all, we were living in their house. The problem? I had my own way of doing things; and my own ways didn't always coincide with what my parents wanted.

A case in point: I had to keep the basement clean. This was a fair rule, but a rule not easily kept with 3 children. I had to dust. I had to make sure the kids toys were picked up after use. I had to make my bed. I had to cook three times a week-they would cook four. I had my share of the household chores not including what I had to do in the basement. Clean the bathroom. Vacuum the floor. Take out the trash. All was written down in perfect black and white.

Now, before you think me a slob, let me just say that I wasn't used to the high standards of cleanliness my mother was keeping. My ship had been 'tight' just not this tight, and so I struggled to keep to the rules at the same time trying to manage my own and my children's (and yes, husband's) sanity. In the end, we were out in 3 months. My sanity was kept because my visit was short. I also spent some time looking for work (while my mother was kind enough to tend the children) and reflecting at night alone or with my husband what I was going to do with my life when I got out. Whatever moments I had to reflect and be my own person, I took. And in the end I was grateful that my husband was able to get a job and we were able to move out.

Living with your parents will not be easy. It's not supposed to me. But if I could recommend anything to you; something I did not do myself, I would suggest focusing on the positive side of the time spent with your parents. Love them, spend time with them. Make some good memories so that when you're back on your own two feet the time you will have spent will mean something in your life, something more than endless headaches and an unlucky bunch of blisters.



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How do you remove the romance, but keep the friendship?

Dear Mom:

How do you get rid of a guy you've been dating and still remain friends?


Want to move on

Dear Want:

What you want is to separate yourself from someone who has been a part of your life in a romantic way and go back to the friendship stage as if the romance never happened. You want to go back to the way things were before the romance. You want to wipe out all the time you have spent together and pretend all you have is a friendship when you know there has been more. This emotional connection is a very real thing and cannot be severed because you desire it to be; just like getting rid of a guy and still remaining friends cannot occur simply because you want it.

Sounds like the guy still like's you; if not, you wouldn't have to get rid of him. I would suggest that you speak to him (and not over the phone; in person); share your feelings about where the relationship has gone and why you would rather remain friends. This won't be easy. He may still try to keep you, believing he still has a chance. He may even think that friendship is out of the question.

Put yourself in his shoes. He still likes you. How can he stick around when he feels the way he does? How can he pretend to be friends when what he wants is your friendship mixed in with what he had before?

After talking with him, he may have something to say to you. You may not like to hear it but listen anyway. He may be understanding on the outside but boiling on the inside. You might find out later that he wants nothing to do with you. You might know right away how he feels. He might leave angry. But whatever the case, give him some time to cool off. Don't call him, don't do anything. Wait. When you see him, be polite. If he calls you, listen. Stand your ground. If he wants to get back together and you still want a friendship, hold your ground. In time he might feel differently about the friendship you have offered. If not, you need to be prepared to live with his choice.


My mom is making me go to graduation

Dear Mom:

My Mom is forcing me to go to graduation. I'm sorry, but graduation at a college is lame. It's long, boring and I don't even know the people like I knew in high school. What should I do?



Dear Bummed:

Quit being bummed. Granted, the event is usually long, and sometimes boring, but
have you ever been to the college variety graduation? Okay, I haven't either, but how can you knock what you haven't tried? And how can you say it's going to be lame and boring when you don't even mention who the speakers are going to be. Do you even know any of the speakers?

Let's say you don't know any of the people there, including the speakers, which I truly doubt. And let's say you're practically at the last of the line, having to wait almost the entire time to get your standing ovation from your mom-and a thousand pictures of your wonderful physique from her camera. Isn't this worth it? I mean, making your mom happy and anyone else who is choosing to attend. I know it's YOUR graduation, but try thinking outside of your head for a minute. The graduation, yes, might be totally, completely and utterly boring, but think of your mom and her feelings. I'm one of them; I ought to know.

Happy walking!