Q. My daughter has always paid attention to her looks and I suppose that is hopefully because of my teaching her to bath daily and make sure she has on some clean underwear! Lately though as she has entered her teen years she has become quite slack about her hair and perhaps the most aggravating to me are her nails. She keeps them it seems with a continuous polish of cracked and chipped colors. This drives me crazy and it has become a point of contention between us. How can I get her to go back to her clean and well presented self?
Auntie A : My dear, all children at some time go through a stage where they consciously decide not to bathe or brush teeth and these things usually pass fairly quickly. At least… I always hope that they do! I completely agree with you about the nails and hair. Cleanliness, as my grandmothers both taught me; is right next to Godliness and so therefore keeping at the bare minimum yourself clean is a must! As for the polished perfect nails…I also agree that you should either be polished perfectly or not at all. Nothing really makes a person look more unkept than chewed off, hang nailed ridden or mis- manicured nails. The reason that this has become an issue, and I suspect that you already know this , is because she knows that this gets on your nerves! It is best to keep a tight lip during these few years of stages of defiance! You can offer to take her with you to the nail salon and see if this fixes the problem. It would be a nice outing for you to spend some mommy/daughter time together. I would not worry too much over it though or make a fuss. Chances are very high that once she realizes how tacky this looks and, more importantly; discovers the opposite sex, she will want to return to her prissy self once more.
Q. My son has a friend that his parent’s allow him to play video games all the time and he has become very self absorbed. As the boys are entering high school my son has lots of homework, projects and sports and his friend seems to have very little discipline or guidance. I want to reach out to his parents because I am afraid that with no intervention this chid may become further withdrawn and not be prepared to be a model citizen and go off to young adult life and all the adventures that are fun in the early years of college. Should I just say nothing? It is bothering my son that he has so much responsibility and his friend gets to be a real slacker.
A. The real question is what is bothering you more? The fact that this child has no self discipline or that his relationship with your son has gotten your son weary as to all the work that he is expected to do? You should commend yourself on raising a son that “gets it.” Apparently all these early years of you teaching him to wait and finish his chores or work before indulging in playing games has paid off. One of the biggest reasons we take our children to extra curricular activities is to teach them commitment and discipline. When parents do not teach these lessons, children grow into adults that can not manage their time or wait to receive their rewards. I’d say to reassure your son that his hard work will be rewarded with good grades, a well defined social life and the health benefits of exercise. He will prosper in young adulthood. If you are truly concerned about the well being of the friend then perhaps you could invite him to a sporting event or to a museum and expose him to something other than his computer screen. If you are super close to his parents you could more thoroughly voice your concerns but be careful! People do not like being told how to raise their children even if what they are doing is clear to everyone else poor choices.
The holidays always present some challenges for most families. For some, each holiday the peacekeeping is just a matter of taking a deep breath and walking into the next room. After all, we do not choose our families and because of that tempered tolerance is necessary. These are people we are related to and we do love them but we certainly might not have chosen them to be a friend or like them. Nevertheless close quarters with people who have a memory of who you once were can create a pressure cooker of hot buttons that you should be prepared for and come to the event with your plan for a strategic exit from an impeding disaster. But what happens when there’s more to it? What happens when someone close in the family dies? How do you navigate through the feelings of each family member now faced with celebrating at a time that makes them now sad? What are the new rules for raising children to be grateful and thankful as products of divorce? Two houses can be a devastating game changer on so many levels. Oh, and how do you teach children that are in a multi-faith home about rituals without steeping on the toes of the other parent or really getting into with the grand parents? Etiquette can only go so far in these circumstances where the situations fall outside of the normal bounds of what we know to do in such and such case scenarios.
This year makes the 39th Christmas, birthday, Mother’s Day and you fill in the blank for the rest without my mother. As a child she was tragically killed in an auto train accident and the entire process of holidays changed forever. What was once a joyful time became a time where adults cried intermittently and bemoaned about the loss. Death does change etiquette protocol during the holidays, probably more than at any other time because it’s a family gathering and without family members its just plain difficult. Add to this the fact that each person comes to the table with a different set of coping skills and stages in their grieving. When grandma’s house was always the setting for Thanksgiving and she dies…now what? You have to change things up is what! Find a new fresh way to celebrate. Perhaps instead of having the traditional ham and sides that she cooked for at least a few years you choose a different menu. Give each person a chance to reset and recover. Then in time what you’ll do is find yourself bringing that loved one right back into the celebrations. You will start cooking their recipes and the very act of doing so in the kitchen will make you smile with memories. You’ll tell stories about them from holidays gone by and their memory will continue to live on within your family. As with most things… everything will be fine with TIME.
When families decide that divorce is their solution there is a new normal for all children. Children are no longer creating Christmas under one roof with their mom and dad. When parents try to out do one another with gifts children see right through their shenanigans and it can really cause a unnecessary stress fest! Being creative with traditions and rituals is key and children will adapt avent calendar to the days they are with mom and the Elf activities at daddy’s place. On Christmas Eve, if the children are at your husband’s this year ask if you can Skype in and sing a carol with them. Be creative. What you should not do is give a gift and then require that it stay at your house and not go with the child. Try to communicate with each other and coordinate efforts for giving not competing! Working together as parents and reassuring the children that so many people love them is one of the best presents you can give them. Most importantly, choose to do something that requires no money. Drive around and check out the lights or make a meal together during their time off. Time and attention and love is more important than anything you could give them under a tree! Children will remember those moments and you’ll be rewarded as years from now they will look back on their childhood unscathed as products from divorce.
Over 2.5 million families celebrate multiple holidays and rituals in their homes. More than one-third of all American Jews are married to Christians. Parents must decide how to navigate a menorah and a Christmas tree…Santa Claus and dreidels! One would hope that prior to making children, these families will have had multiple conversations about their faith, the ways they need and choose to profess it and their expectations for passing their faith onto the next generation. Will the children be raised essentially Jewish with a few extra rituals and celebrations that are clearly not a part of that faith? How confusing will this be as they grow and mature and will at some point need to decide for themselves what faith they want for themselves? If you are a faithful Christian are you ok with taking Christ purposefully out of Christmas? Should the children become exposed to both equally? and at what times? Each faith has a coming of age so to speak and this critical rite of passage in many respects defines a person. The decisions about what will be celebrated and acknowledged rituals are big decisions with lasting effects into adulthood. Each family must seriously contemplate how and what rituals will be celebrated and those that will not. The organization of all holidays in multi-faith households is a brave new world so to speak. Most importantly, for each family it will be different.
Q. I am a father of three with my children ranging in age from 2-8. I have been teaching them manners ever since they were very little and sometimes they still forget the basics! What are in your opinion, the top 10 best manner practices for parents to teach their kids? I want to make sure that at the very least they remember the “big” ones!
- Teaching manners is one of the most important things we as parents do teach our children. There’s a lot of others that contribute to their upbringing but as parents the roles of teaching manners is often exclusively up to us! It helps them to get along in the world, builds respect and is necessary for a harmonious world. There are so many to teach but…My top ten are as follows: 1. Say Please and Thank you always and with no exceptions
2. Do not talk over others or bluntly interrupt conversations
3. Asking for permission first alleviates the problem of having to ask for forgiveness later
4. Only say nice things about others
5. Practice the “Golden Rule” in all that you do… treat others as you would have them do unto you!
6. Never ever point out differences such as hair or skin color or whether someone has a wheelchair or is mentally challenged.
7. Always write a thank you note after receiving a gift or being invited over to a playdate or sleepover.
8. Keep your opinions especially about things that you don’t care for to yourself.
9. Do not use foul language when speaking or texting or at all. It makes you look uneducated and reflects poorly on your upbringing.
10. Always try to make someone smile and leave them better off for having known you. This may be as simple as holding their door or just smiling at them each time you meet.
Q. My daughter has been a part of a girl scout group ever since she was 8 years old. As the girls have grown, one of her friends has announced that she no longer identifies with being a girl and has begun to transition herself into a male gender identity. My daughter at first was confused but I have assured her that her friend is still her friend irregardless of what gender she now has identified with. How can I offer her ways that she can give unconditional support to her friend during this transition?
- I commend you first of all for being forthright with her and encouraging her to see her as a friend and not with a specific gender. Many parents today face the challenge of explaining to their children transgender and role swapping that back in my time we of course had; but it was just not talked about. It is often an uncharted path both in parenting as well as in many friendships as society learns to accept a more open and perhaps honest lifestyle identity from it’s people. Acceptance for many is hard to come by and unfortunately not so many people are as open minded. I would encourage your daughter to invite her friend to sit with her at lunch, not change any habits of their lives thus far and if she finds that her friend needs to talk to make sure that “he” knows that your daughter is always there for him. Friendships are about connections deep within each of us and making memories. Just staying true to what made them become friends in the first place is the best way of showing unconditional support.