While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On kids who push your buttons
P.: As the mother of 27- and 30-year-olds, can I say you will never err if you take the time to tell the preteen or teenage button-pusher that you love them and want to help, if that's what they need, that you will just listen if that's what they need, and that if they need an excuse to avoid some peer pressure, you will be happy to be the bad guy, no questions asked?
You would be surprised at how often they just need to know you are in their corner. Sometimes they don't want to give the details but do need to know you are there for them. A safe place is a wonderful gift you can give your children, but they often don't know how to say that's what they need. So you reinforce it in ways both big and small. You'll never regret it, and you will give your kids a wonderful gift. Someday you will look at the wonderful, kind young people you have brought into the world, who now look to be the safe, compassionate place for others, including their parents.
On rejecting someone for having an accent you don't like
J.: My husband is from New Zealand and has a glorious accent that had the power to buckle my knees. Even the most vulgar words somehow sounded intelligent, charming and polite. He is an incredible man inside and out, but I will admit, that accent had me at "hello."
In less time than I would have expected, it disappeared. It didn't go away; it is just not as detectable or obvious to me as it was once was. I can't explain this phenomenon, but I know from conversations with others that it is not a rare occurrence.
If you care about someone, and s/he is good to you, and if your only complaint is how the sweet nothings he's whispering sound in a regional accent, you need to get over it. It would be a shame, because of insecurity and limited foresight, to hurt someone you care for and who cares for you.
Further, I couldn't imagine the hurt, anger and offense it would incite if I had ever asked my husband to change because of my perception of his accent and its reflection on me. For many an accent is a marker of who they are and where they came from. Many people are incredibly proud of these things, and to insinuate that they shouldn't be is beyond offensive.
On grandparents who won't travel, want grandbabies to come to them
J.: My wife and I are grandparents, and we would never dream of asking such a thing.
Those grandparents should be thinking about moving to be closer to their daughter, unless they've got other children near them. Too many aging parents are inconsiderate of their children, entrenching where they've lived for years and forcing their children to handle the parents' increasing medical problems long-distance.
On being hurt by others' response to your grief
J.: (1) Helping a grieving friend or relative is very hard; some people want to be left alone and some want very specific help yet don't ask for it.
(2) Forgive people for what they say or do when confronted with a grieving friend or relative; they simply do not know what to do or say. Period.
(3) We are more emotionally sensitive during grief. Try not to be offended by what others do or say; they really don't know what would be helpful.