Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A few words of advice about the giving of advice

My cellphone was vibrating on my desk. ¶ I looked down at the caller ID. It was the younger of my two sons, my 25-year-old who lives in Chicago. ¶ After we exchanged greetings, he got to the reason for the mid-day call. ¶ "Will they bounce a check for 41 cents?" he asked.

Hmmm. As with most conversations I have with my sons (my first-born is 30 and lives in Southern California) I try to figure out what they are talking about without having to ask a lot of questions lest I (1) irritate them or (2) appear stupid.

In this case, I was lucky. He realized how cryptic his question was seconds after it came out of his mouth.

"I mean," he said, "if I wrote a check for $625 and I have $624.59 in my account, will the check bounce?"

Hmmm. $6.25? $625? For a sandwich? For his rent?

It was for his rent. I know that because I gave him money toward it.

"I don't think they are allowed to charge overdraft fees if it's less than $5," I told him, realizing, as my words spilled into the phone, I hadn't a clue what his bank would or would not do.

So, I quickly added a sentence, "I'll go put $20 in your account later this afternoon just to be sure."

And another. "You know, you shouldn't cut it that close."

Ahh. There it was. The piece of motherly advice dispensed with a spoonful of money to a grown child. Maybe it'll sink in, maybe not. He has to make his own mistakes but it's difficult not to jump in and help.

I guess that's why they call it the circle of life. If we all listened to, and built upon, what our parents and grandparents told us, maybe they'd call it the great linear progression of life.

I was curious about what kind of advice the subjects featured in this month's issue — one a relatively new dad, the other a veteran — have given their own children.

Coincidentally, both Jeff Johnson, AARP Florida state director, and Robert Mellis, journalist-turned-goodwill ambassador, have daughters.

Betsy Johnson is only 8, but she already has gotten some sage advice from Dad:

• You are not what you do. You are great not because of what you accomplish but because of who you are.

• For everything you bring into your room, throw something else out.

• You can overwater plants.

• When you make a commitment, you need to keep it.

• Remember what you are saving up money for when you see something you want right now.

With all that wisdom, is there any doubt young Betsy has a clean room with healthy plants and a stuffed piggy bank?

Then there's Mellis, father of two grown daughters, married with their own children.

"We are not much into handing out advice," Mellis said. "The evidence is it usually isn't followed.

"We've always encouraged our kids to grow up, spread their wings and fly. And now we do that with our four grandkids. My lifelong belief always has been: Don't be afraid to fail. If you don't take a chance, life becomes too safe. And safe equals boring."

It probably is too late for me to pass along the advice Johnson gave to his daughter. I should have done it when I was climbing over mountains of clothes and dead plants to wake the boys for school.

But maybe I can use some of what worked for Mellis.

As long as a balanced checking account doesn't fall into the boring category.

And by the way, I put $40, not $20, in his account later that day.

Patti Ewald can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8746.

How about you?

Would you like to pass along some advice you gave your children -- or got from your parents? We'd like to hear it -- and print excerpts in next month's LifeTimes. And please be sure to mention if it was heeded. E-mail by April 6 to [email protected] or mail to Patti Ewald, Tampa Bay Times, 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Include your full name and the city in which you live.

A few words of advice about the giving of advice 03/27/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida woman weighing 325 pounds charged with killing girl by sitting on her

    Crime

    PENSACOLA — A 325-pound (150-kilogram) Florida woman is charged with killing her 9-year-old cousin by sitting on the child as punishment.

    This Oct. 14, 2017 photo made available by the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, Fla., shows Veronica Green Posey under arrest. Posey is charged with killing her 9-year-old cousin by sitting on the child as punishment. Posey, who weighs 325 pounds, first punished the girl with a ruler and metal pipe before sitting on her for at least 10 minutes. [Escambia County Sheriff's Office via AP]
  2. Girl, 8, got on 'tippy toes' to peer over cruise ship railing, then fell to her death

    Accidents

    MIAMI — A family cruise to paradise turned into a nightmare on Saturday, when an 8-year-old tumbled over the inner railings of a ship and fell to her death.

    Friends and family mourn Zion Smith, the 8-year-old girl who fell to her death aboard a Carnival cruise in Miami this weekend. [Image from Facebook]
  3. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Looking back at what went wrong

    Bucs

    In his latest Cannon Fodder podcast, Greg Auman says Monday brought good news relating to Jameis Winston's shoulder injury.

    A frustrated Mike Evans sits on the bench during the second half of the Bucs' loss to the Cardinals Sunday in Arizona. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Syrian commander says Raqqa has been captured from militants

    World

    BEIRUT — U.S.-backed Syrian forces liberated the city of Raqqa on Tuesday from Islamic State militants, a senior commander said, in a major defeat for the collapsing extremist group that had proclaimed it to be the capital of its "caliphate."

    This frame grab from video released Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 and provided by Furat FM, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows Syrian Islamic State group fighters who surrendered entering a base of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Raqqa, Syria. A spokesman for the SDF in Syria says it will be in control of the northern city of Raqqa "within a few days" after attacking the last pocket held by the Islamic State group. SDF fighters launched an operation to retake the last IS-held pocket of Raqqa after some 275 militants and their family members surrendered. [Furat FM via AP]
  5. Drug czar nominee Marino withdraws name amid report he weakened DEA

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that his nominee to be the nation's drug czar is withdrawing from consideration for the job.

    U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., left, sponsored the law that weakened the DEA's enforcement abilities. Seen with Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., in 2015, Marino is nominated to be the nation's drug czar. [Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg]