Archive for February, 2012

Bounced because of Nana

Posted on February 27, 2012. Filed under: Family, Parenting, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

My mother can be inappropriate with the information she shares with my 12 year-old son.  The subjects vary.  Sometimes it’s about sex or drugs, etc., she defends it by saying she wants him to know any subject is okay with her so he has someone to talk to about anything.  Recently he complained to her that his babysitting job didn’t pay enough, so she gave him some bad advice that got him fired.  I am furious!  While he can’t be paid “normal” wages because he’s only 12 and has limited skills, that job was teaching him commitment and a good work ethic.  Now, he has lost all of it – including what money he had earned!

Galled Over By Granny

Dear Galled Over,

There’s a reason the old saying goes: “mother knows best” instead of “grandparents know best”.  That’s because, somewhere between becoming empty nesters and becoming nana and papa, our parents morph into a different species, which we wouldn’t recognize if we time traveled back to our childhood.

Their famous “eat your veggies first” line is replaced with “would you like nuggets or a cheeseburger with your Happy Meal?”  The mandatory bedtime you remember is now considered a suggestion, which is never implemented at their house.  It’s way more important for the grand-kids to stay up late watching old reruns of The Love Boat with grandma, who, by the way, considers it as educational as the History Channel.  Which is fitting, especially since your mother now seems more like bubbly cruise director Julie, than someone who was ever a parent.  She’s running around making sure her grand-babies are having fun, playing games and planning shore excursions in the backyard!

It comes as no surprise to me that your mom overstepped what you and I would consider to be normal parental boundaries.  When you combine a grandparents need to look like a rock-star with their desire to make up for their perceived mistakes made with us, you start to see how age doesn’t always equal wisdom.

Looking hip and “in the know” is super important to a lot of grandmothers.  While it may be cool for the grand-kids, it’s a hot button for us parents!  It’s crazy to watch the one time family sheriff turn into a court jester — treating grand-babies like royalty, letting them drink pop, eat cake for breakfast and teaching them how to play gin rummy for real money!  What happen to the parents who’s favorite line was “I’ll give you something to cry about”?  It’s almost like their bodies have been taken over by aliens, right?

Since I don’t have her side of the story, I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt.  In most cases, the last thing any grandparent would want to do is look bad in the eyes of their grandchildren.  I’m pretty sure she thinks she gave great advice and is completely shocked it backfired.

Unfortunately, you are the one who has to deal with the aftermath.  It’s one more thing added to your thankless routine of screaming “turn the volume on TV down”, “do your homework” and “for the love of gawd, quit trying to give the dog a Mohawk!”  It’s no wonder granny and pops have our kids undivided attention, not to mention unconditional love.  It’s easy to idolize someone who never requires they eat food with nutritional value and spends a crazy amount of time teaching the values of a Vegas card game!

Here’s the thing, your mom needs to “know her audience” — in fact, that’s something all of us can work on.  Just as there is a time and place for off-color jokes you can only share with certain friends, the same is applicable with the grand-kids.  Explain there are some things you shouldn’t be discussing with the kids — YET.  You can also tell her, when they are adults, she can say whatever she wants – whether you mean that or not, it will buy you some time — right now, they’re way too impressionable to handle that kind of advice.  Build her up so she can hear your message.  Re-enforce her queen bee status with her grandchildren and remind her that with that position comes big responsibility.  Let her know you’re trying to help her hold on to that spot…I know, I know, that’s going to nearly kill you to do that, especially now, since you’re so upset, but keep in mind, this is for your kid, not you.

I’d skip harping on how bad her advice was, and how ridiculous it was that she shared that with your son, that will only put her on the defense.  Make sure you stay away from the blame game and focus on gently conveying that it’s best for her to be a cheerleader, rather than an agent.

I agree, your son was earning more than just money with that gig and I applaud your efforts for instilling a work ethic, Lord knows more kids need that these days.  I suggest you call the family he was babysitting for and explain what happened.  Like all of us, that mom has a mother too and will probably understand the situation.  Hopefully she’ll give your son another chance and perhaps a little raise!

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Bolting On A Beauty

Posted on February 13, 2012. Filed under: Couples, Family, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

One of our best friends was recently dumped by her husband of over 20  years.  They have 2 children and what seemed to be a great relationship.  And here’s the kicker – she is gorgeous!  By far, the most beautiful of our group AND a sweetheart.  Now the rest of us, who aren’t nearly as attractive, are worried our husbands may trade us in.  How worried should we be?

1st Wives Club

Dear 1st Wives,

Remember the old song: “If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife…”?  It reminds me of what my husband, Scooter, has said for years “Show me a super model and I’ll show you someone, somewhere, who’s tired of sleeping with her!”  His point may be crude, but he certainly has an interesting take – not only are looks fleeting, but gorgeous woman can be a look of work!

Just because your girlfriend is a knockout, doesn’t mean she’s immune to being treated like garbage and dumped at the curb.  Look no further than 3 of the most gorgeous women in the world who were all treated like rubbish:

Christie Brinkley’s 4th husband cheated on her with an 18-year-old.  Jennifer Lopez was dumped by Ben Affleck just days before their wedding.  And how can anyone forget Sandra Bullocks ex-husband, Jesse James affair with a tattoo model?  Really people?  What were any of these men thinking?

You get the message — looks don’t equal relationship longevity.  Now, would you like it if your spouse took care of him or herself and maintained some sort of personal pride in their appearance?  Absolutely!  But if you love them, you’re not tossing them in the recycle bin if they refuse to erase wrinkles with Botox.  The exception to this, of course is if you’re a Playboy Bunny dating Hugh Hefner and then it’s just part of the deal, you know from the beginning that your days are numbered.

To me, this situation seems to be more about the husband versus the beautiful bride he bailed on.  Clearly he’s just not happy — with himself or his life in general.  It’s also a pretty safe bet he’s going through a mid-life crisis.  After two decades with the same gal he may be hearing the bartender say “last call!”.

Men who’ve made these decisions tend to think they can easily trade-in, trade-up or trade-down, as the case may be on the age scale.  The bottom line, nothing is going to make them happier, unless they figure out a way to be happy themselves.  Looking for someone or something to make them complete never works.

With all of that said, it’s important to remember what our parents have lived long enough to understand — none of us know what goes on behind closed doors, you can only assume they were living the perfect life you envisioned.

Second, many times, the end of a relationship doesn’t have anything to do with what you and I consider to be deal breakers.  It may actually be the thing that sitcoms have used as a punch line for years: nagging!  I’m not saying this is why your buddy’s beau bolted, I’m just tossing out some more food for thought.

A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out that nagging can be disastrous to a relationship: “…the dynamic can potentially be as dangerous to a marriage as adultery or bad finances”.

Nagging isn’t something only ugly people do, in fact, I’d venture to guess that super attractive people may even nag more than average looking folks.  Why?  Because good-looking people get away with a lot and can start to believe their own press.  Look at the celebrities who think they are entitled, it’s because of years of being surrounded by “yes” people.  Your average John Doe doesn’t get that kind of tail kissing.  Funny how puckering up to someone’s fanny goes straight to his or her head, isn’t it?

Again, I’m not saying your girlfriend is a nag, I’m just reiterating that being attractive usually isn’t enough to hold anyone’s attention for very long.

Relationships are complicated and can have more layers than an onion.  Just like the pungent veggie, pulling the layers back can be messy, smelly and can even make you cry.  Thus, I wouldn’t waste any precious life minutes worrying about why their relationship didn’t work.  Just be there for your friend during this crisis.

As for your husband, don’t worry about him leaving you — divorce isn’t like chickenpox, you can’t catch it.  Getting married may be easy, but getting divorced is like trying to cut the lawn with nail clippers.  I’m guessing your pals estranged husband is learning that right now.  It’s a pretty safe bet the grass isn’t any greener in the yard he’s currently standing in.

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Breaking The Bad Boy Bond

Posted on February 6, 2012. Filed under: Couples, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

I have a friend who keeps going back to the same guy who’s not good for her, he’s emotionally abusive and manipulative.  Every week she says they’re done, but ends up going right back to him by the weekend.  It’s hard because she turns to me to help pick up the pieces, only to start the cycle all over again.

Broken Record

Dear Broken Record,

I hear you loud and clear sister!  The problem is, your friend can’t, because she’s currently stuck in the muted and foggy stage.

She’s bonded with this despicable dude and unfortunately, it’s going to take more than a large can of Pledge to leave him in the dust.  She needs something stronger, like a gallon of Mr. Clean to get rid of the haze.

Most likely you’ve already told her the usual things we tell our pals in these tough moments, such as:  you’re a catch…he’s a loser to treat you that way…you deserve better!  The problem is, she can’t absorb any of that information because she’s already saturated with emotions for him.  That connection is overriding her common sense because she’s bonded with him.

Women tend to bond with one man at a time.  On the glue scale, we’re talking superglue, not Elmers.  It can’t be melted away with hot water, it needs full strength acetone nail polish remover!  Since she’s not ready to start the removal process herself, I’m going to hand you a bag of cotton balls and some tips on how to help.

Let’s begin with an old line from my mom, Norma Jean:  The best way to get over one man is to go on a date with another!   N.J. didn’t coin the phrase, but at age 81, she’s had decades of witnessing its effectiveness.

The reason this method works is because women (in general) are only able to bond to one man at a time.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the same for men, who can carry on relationships with several women at the same time with much more ease.  I’m not saying all men are able to do this, I’m just using a broad strokes to help paint this picture.

In order to break the bond with one man, she needs to truly understand there are others out there for her.  Some might say that she needs to work on herself first.  I don’t disagree with that, but I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with her, other than being stuck like cement to a man who’s making her life a mess!

Why are women programmed this way?  I’m guessing this bonding thing was set in our DNA back in the Stone Age, when it was necessary for a woman to wait in the cave for their mate to come home with food.  The option of gallivanting around all day may have meant their demise if faced with a T-Rex or other hazards.  Keep in mind, there wasn’t any place to really go, no malls, no Starbucks, no movie theatre.  It was all about surviving day-to-day.  The best way to ensure survival was to bond with a man and have a child, which ensured food and shelter.

On the other side of the rock, for the prehistoric male, spreading his seed to other women helped make sure his genes would survive to see another generation.

I know, that’s a pretty long-winded explanation for old N.J.’s simple statement – basically, the best thing you can do for your buddy is to help show her there are other fish in the sea.  Fish who will respect her and treat her the way she deserves.

It’s clear her broken record of “over him on Monday, but back in his arms by Friday” exhausts you, but she needs you now.  If you bail on her, chances are pretty high she’ll keep playing this song over and over with this guy.  In order to stop this instant replay you and her other friends need to rally around her.

The key is to stop the cycle.  Make plans for the weekend and occupy the time she would normally spend with him.  Set her up on a blind date, she doesn’t need to marry the guy, she just needs a change of scenery to understand the view she now has isn’t that great.  Help her upgrade her parking lot view to an ocean-front so she can release this bad catch back into the water — he’s not mature enough for her to keep.

If she’s not up for going on a date yet, plan a girls weekend and get out of town.  Or simply pick a new spot for dinner or different place to hangout this weekend.  Change the venue and you’ll change the menu all the way around.

Bottom line: she must break the bond in order to move on!

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