Mother fed up with constant bickering with teen daughter
Dear Annie: My 19year-old daughter has always argued with me about everything. I could say the sky is blue, and she would say, “No, it’s azure.” When she was a child, I tried to ignore her debates and told her to just do as I say. But now that she’s a young adult, it no longer works. I don’t know how to put an end to these constant ridiculous arguments.
I just got off the phone with her. I asked if she could stop and get some cookie dough at the grocery store on her way home. She could not see any reason why I would want any, and I spent way too much time and effort convincing her to please get some so I could make some cookies. The store wasn’t out of her way and it wasn’t expensive. She simply saw no reason for me to bake cookies.
She rarely does this with her father, although he has occasionally gotten the same treatment. I do not understand why she feels the need to make our lives so much more unpleasant than necessary. She will be finishing her education at a university halfway across the country next year and it would be nice to put an end to this nonsense before she leaves. Please help. — Just for Argument’s Sake
Dear Just: You and your daughter have created a confrontational pattern that neither of you seems able to break. Here’s how: Stop arguing with her. When she says the sky is “azure,” tell her, “OK.” If she says you don’t need to bake cookies, reply thoughtfully, “ You could be right.” These are not major issues, and it won’t matter if you let her win. Arguing is how your daughter gets your undivided attention. When she sees that she cannot provoke you, she may look for different ways to communicate. Help her out.
Dear Annie: I am 75 and have four married children. My first wife died, and I’ve been married to my second wife for eight years. It causes her great pain that one of my children displays a picture of me with my first wife in a prominent place in the living room. There is no picture of me with my current wife. She thinks it is an intentional way to say she is not welcome, and she refuses to visit there again.
My wife has made a point of displaying pictures in our home of both sides of the family to avoid just this type of ill will when my children visit. I understand people have the right to hang any pictures that please them, but I would like my wife to feel like part of the family in their home. Should I request that the offending picture be removed during our visits? — Upset Father Dear Father: Your wife is being oversensitive. It is perfectly proper for a child to have a picture of his or her parents on display in the home. We suggest you explain the situation privately and give them a framed photograph of you with your current wife, asking if they would please hang it where your wife can see it when she visits. Tell them it would be a kindness to you and a gesture of acceptance for her.
Dear Annie: “Louisville Lass” preferred that the grandparents donate to their children’s college funds instead of showering them with gifts on holidays and birthdays. That is exactly what my inlaws did for my two sons. They would give them a copy of a deposit slip to a savings account in their names.
The small amounts of $10 or $25 didn’t mean much to the boys at the time, but when they graduated from high school, the amounts had added up to $5,000 apiece. The smile that brought to their faces, and to ours as well, was far greater than all the “ landfill” gifts they would have received over the years. It also teaches a valuable lesson on how saving small amounts can be very rewarding. — A Happy Parent There may be cheaper ways to declare your love on Valentine’s Day than by saying it with flowers, but that doesn’t mean having to forgo a bouquet. Just put more thought into the presentation.
Sometimes less is more, such as attaching a caring note to a single long-stemmed rose rather than ordering a pricey dozen. Or mix a few stellar roses with a big selection of lower-priced blooms to make a statement.
Sprinkling a layer of rose petals on pillows or floating them on a candlelit bubble bath has been known to warm a Valentine’s heart. Be creative about showcasing whatever you can afford.
“Flowers are a luxury, a discretionary purchase, but they’re an affordable luxury,” said Jennifer Sparks, vice-president of marketing for the Society of American Florists in Alexandria, Va. “A lot of people may be going away for the (Valentine’s) weekend, but with the economy the way it is, many more will be staying home and having dinner in. Flowers accent that and create a little romance at the same time.”
Here are some ways to prune your Valentine’s Day floral costs even further:
— Shopping ahead of time can earn you some incentives. “There’s a better chance you can get free delivery, better selection or an early-bird discount,” Sparks said. “It certainly should guarantee they’ll arrive on time since Valentine’s Day this year falls on a Sunday when there’s no mail or express delivery.”
— Buy a small but extravagant assortment of lesser-known cut flowers. “Red roses are probably the most popular gift, but there are so many other options and price ranges,” Sparks said. “Carnations and tulips are great alternatives. There also are some fragrant new hybrids out there that are a great value. Don’t be afraid to ask florists for suggestions.”
— Stretch things out. Put a potted plant here; place a mixed bouquet there. Present her with a corsage before leaving for that special dinner.
— Craft your own arrangement. Dig around for a whimsical pot or unusual vase. Design something suggesting a shared experience or a memorable trip together. Drop some golf balls or seashells beneath the blooms or stick a couple of theatre tickets and several colourful postcards into a hand-tied mix.
Still another way to boost flower power is by coaxing your blooms to stay fresh longer than the usual four to seven days. Re-cut the stems with a sharp knife as soon as you get them home so they can “sip” whatever water they need. Remove any leaves below the waterline to avoid unsightly bacterial growth and decay. Keep flowers in a cool place overnight (18 to 22 C); steer clear of drafts, heating and cooling vents, and long periods of direct sunlight. And who says real men don’t like flowers? “ When it comes to receiving flowers, men and women are on the same playing field,” said Jeanette Haviland-Jones, a Rutgers University psychology professor, in a behavioural study reinforcing the idea that flowers have a positive impact on emotional health.
Ignore feminine frills, however. Go bold, said Sally Ferguson, a spokeswoman for the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center.
“Generally, men go for more vibrant colours — reds and yellows and purples, while women like softer shades,” Ferguson said. “Presentation is the point of Valentine’s Day. That’s where the individuality comes in.”