Thursday, July 30, 2009

My relationship with my mom can't withstand our different political views

Dear Mom:

I'm a voting democrat; my Mom's a republican who works at party events, etc. Because we feel strongly about our views, we end up not being able to talk. What should we do?


Off the Ballot

Dear Off:

One of the things I've learned about being a mom is that my children will rarely, if ever, agree with me. And if they do, they will rarely admit it.

If you look at your friends you will also see that you don't relate completely on every issue, but often you are able to work through this difference of opinion simply because you like this friend and don't want to lose them.

The thing with family is that we are pretty much stuck with them. If they say something we don't like we usually don't resort to divorcing them. We may move away, but in the moving we distance ourselves from the possibilities we would have had if we'd stayed on and worked it out.
What I have also learned is that there are two heated topics in life; and these two topics get most of us up on our high horses. The first is religion, the second, politics.

The reason for this, I believe, goes deep. We are not just fighting a war about who gets the last Twinkie in the cupboard, we are warring about our innermost beliefs, and these beliefs cut deeply when someone we care about, and in this case, Mom, feels differently and isn't afraid to express her feelings either.

I have a family member whom I used to have to walk on eggshells with. There were certain topics of conversation that just made her angry. She felt I was judging her. That I didn't understand where she was coming from, and believed my way was the only way a person "should" feel.

For a long time, our relationship was built on our differences. We would talk, but mostly yell about why the other person was wrong instead of focusing on what we shared in common. This hurt both of us until we discovered that what we wanted was a healthy relationship built on trust and understanding.

And so we began focusing on topics other than our issues. In time, our relationship grew stronger, we spent more time together and there came a day when we could share our opposing views more openly; but this was only after we'd built a strong foundation first.

Perhaps you already have a strong foundation of trust with your mom. Perhaps you can talk about everything else; just not politics. If this is the case, remember your mom doesn't have to agree with you to be a good mother, and you aren't a bad son if you don't agree with her. Respect her feelings. Listen when she shares them. Acknowledge that her views are valid and important.

Though you might not always agree with them, she has a right to her opinion the same as you.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Should I date a friend? Should I date a young teacher of mine?

Dear Mom,

There's a girl that's expressed romantic interest in me. We've been really good friends for awhile now and she says she doesn't want to mess up our friendship. I want us to be together and think we can only strengthen our friendship. How can I get her to drop her reservations?



Dear Anxious,

Seems like you're getting two kinds of messages here: She has a romantic interest and she does not have a romantic interest.

While I'm usually in favor of promoting a bit of romance, you might want to think twice about hurrying this one along.

Obviously, your friendship means a lot to this person; otherwise she wouldn't be asking you to back off in the romance department. I think some of the problems we have in relationships are due to the fact that we hurry to the romance, and when it burns out, we wonder why we liked that person in the first place.

I think that you may be right when you say that your friendship can only be strengthened by romance, but if the girl only thinks bringing romance into the picture will ruin things, I wouldn't keep trying to change her mind. Stand back a bit. Allow her to decide what she wants. You know what you want, now give her the space to see what she wants. Continue to be that good friend and no matter what happens later, she will always know that you cared about her and her wants in favor of your own.

From my experience, when I've told a guy I only liked him as a friend (and this is going way back before I was married, mind you) I truly liked him as a friend and wasn't in the market for a romantic relationship with him. Truly. Even then, I often found him hounding me, trying to get me to change my mind, etc. Nothing serious, just a bit of pressure until we were both on the same page; the message was received, and the guy went elsewhere.

I would stick with the friendship and I wouldn't put pressure on her to "drop her reservations." If your relationship is meant for romance, it will happen soon enough, or later, no matter. The fact of the matter is this:

It will happen if it's meant to happen.

And if it's not meant for you to be together romantically, count yourself lucky for having a good friend to talk with in the first place


Dear Mom:

My Math professor is five years older than me. Should I make a move on her?



Dear Puzzled,


Allow her to teach. Sit back and learn.

After you've graduated and your life begins anew either at your dream job or at a different college, and if you're still interested, ask away. If you still like her after two years of the college mayhem, make that move. You never know.


Monday, July 20, 2009

My Girlfriend Won't Cook!

Dear Mom:

How do I get my girlfriend to start cooking? She has an aversion to the kitchen. She won't help me. If it entails too much prep she won't do it. What should I do?



Dear Hungry,

The sickness your girlfriend has is one I can relate to. You may believe your girlfriend is merely being lazy, uncooperative and uncaring of you, but this is probably not true.

Though eating is an obvious fact of life, there are, yes, some females on this planet who really don't enjoy cooking. We like to eat it, of course, but the idea of standing in a hot kitchen for hours on end cooking up what should be a spectacular dish is about as pleasant and desirable as cleaning out the bathroom toilet.

What I find interesting in your question is that for centuries it was the woman who was portrayed as "belonging" in the kitchen like some sort of household appliance. She was "expected" to cook even if she didn't enjoy it, to have a hearty meal prepared for her man the minute he walked through the door.

In this "so called" modern era of equal rights and opportunity, there are some men who yet insist that the woman still belongs in the kitchen. What is so fascinating about this concept is that more and more women are working outside the home bringing in pretty hefty paychecks themselves, and yet at home, they are still expected to cook full-time for their man.

Though the roles are reversed in your case, and you find yourself cooking your heart out while she may be sitting leisurely on the couch, consider this:

She obviously does not enjoy cooking like you do and the only way she may help you with this undesirable task is if you give her some room.

Ask her for help, and with that help don't expect a fancy meal. If she is comfortable with macaroni and cheese (boxed), be thankful you have a night off. The next night-your turn-cook something gourmet if you want, but don't make it a contest; rather an opportunity to share your love. Be satisfied with her efforts and don't brag about your own.

She may not want to cook with you in the kitchen because she feels a bit intimidated-her lack of culinary skills and your great abundance. You might even be the biggest bear in the kitchen that she has ever seen. I can relate. My husband, calm and soothing in most cases, turns into something else when I try helping him in the kitchen. I usually settle for setting the table.

For some years now, my husband has been cooking the majority of our meals. He loves to cook and I let him. He hates to clean. I can manage it. So after the wonderful gourmet chef meal, we pat our full tummies, and he goes and watches television while I clean up the wonderful mess called dishes.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Dating A Guy At Work - Is dating a co-worker a bad idea?

Dear Mom:

Should I date a guy at work?



Dear Interested:

That depends. Can you date this guy and still remain co-workers at work? Can you stick to a purely working relationship, never allowing your personal relationship to interfere with your business one? Perhaps the best way for you to answer this one is to look back on your previous relationships.

How would you describe your attachment-what I mean to say is, were you always holding hands, winking at each other from across the room, whispering, giggling, making coy suggestions you thought only your partner could understand? Did this previous relationship easily distract you from even simple tasks? Was it hard for you to concentrate when away from him? And with him, was it hard to think about anything but him?

These are typical responses to being with someone you like, responses which are normal, even desirable in a relationship. When you mix romance with work however, some pretty amazing things begin to happen, not all of them pleasant or positive.

I am quickly thinking of one experience I had. I was working this job and had a desire to date this particular guy. When he asked me out I accepted. We went to Lagoon together and I cannot tell you the feelings that stirred within my soul as I was with him; especially on those close and steamy rides like the wild mouse.

At any rate, from the first date on, I found it difficult to concentrate on my work. When I would see him I would suddenly be transported away. My focus was poor. It was difficult for him to work as well, and yes, we made many moony eyes at each other, and spent a pleasant majority of the time thinking about other things besides work.

The fact that he was usually at work when I was only added to the drama and made it difficult for me to do my job; I wanted to be with him more than I wanted to do my work. And this proved difficult for me for a time until we broke up. And then I had a new problem to face while at work with him.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Not Passionate Anymore

Dear Mom:

How do I get passionate about my life? How do I find purpose?


Dear Bored:

I think you've already begun to answer your initial question. When someone like you isn't passionate about their life, it's usually not because they aren't busy-and being a student definitely leaves little time to just be sitting around. The listless feeling is usually due to the fact that there is no variety to spice up an otherwise pretty intense college life.Now, by that I don't mean going out and getting drunk or skipping class, because surely that would equal variety. To truly be passionate about life, a person needs to take inventory of what they enjoy but never seem to have time for. And I'm not talking here about any grandiose events or expensive ventures.

Let's say you enjoy the mountains but never seem to get up there. Or you enjoy reading but only feel as if you have time to read, you know, textbooks. Maybe you enjoy going out to movies with friends or spending time on a hobby. But, you know, school is there and who has time for anything else?

You do. How do I know? You're reading this column. Take a moment and do an inventory. I'll wait.

Okay, now take a look at your list. Which passion jumps out at you the most? This passion is your assignment for the week. Now, I'm not asking for a whole day, I'm not even asking for an hour. I'm asking you to start where you can. But I'm asking you to start. No excuses.Yesterday, after returning home from my first French class, my mind was in a whirl of words and phrases; most, I can assure you, meant nothing to me because I had no idea what I was hearing and repeating in the first place. I came home and tried to work on the homework, but learning was difficult. I was tired; my mind was tired, and all I wanted to do was sleep. Instead, I went outside and began to weed the flower bed.

For many of you, probably all of you who read this column, you're thinking, "You're kidding, right? Weeding can't be on your list. Weeding is work, and work's not fun."
Well, perhaps I'm a strange one, (I've been told that before) but weeding gives me a chance to take out my frustration on the weeds. The time spent weeding clears my head. I love the smell of the garden, the feel of the earth. I love weeding because when I'm done there is instant and immediate success. The flower beds are beautiful!

Most days I feel passionate about my life because I have a purpose, and my purpose isn't merely to wade through class, but to experience every breath of it; returning home to spend time doing something I enjoy like weeding, doing homework, laughing with my family, and preparing for the next day; because there's always a next day whether I feel passionate about it or not.