Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition

Grandchild wants more praise for successes

- By Amy Dickinson askamy@amydickins­ Twitter@askingamy Copyright 2023 by Amy Dickinson

Dear Amy: I have cousins who receive almost all of the attention from our grandparen­ts. One cousin is at an Ivy League school (on scholarshi­p for football). He also has an internship with a firm on Wall Street. The other is a highly rated high school basketball player.

I haven’t been blessed with those talents athletical­ly, but I am making my own path to success. I am in college, and I will be graduating in May. Then, I will go to graduate school.

No matter what I do, I never seem to receive the same level of attention and respect as my cousins do.

My grandparen­ts might talk about my successes for a few minutes, but then move on and talk about my cousins for the rest of the time. I am happy for my cousins, but it hurts me knowing it feels like my accomplish­ments and successes are going underappre­ciated.

This has happened my entire life. How do I tell my grandparen­ts this without causing heated arguments?

— Underappre­ciated

Dear Underappre­ciated:

If you fear that expressing your feelings will bring on a heated argument, then

I’d say the issue with your grandparen­ts is deeper and more complicate­d than an attention imbalance.

Parents oftentimes actively promote closeness between their children and grandparen­ts starting early in life. Your parents might have been more low-key than your cousins’ parents.

These cousins seem to be succeeding in ways that we in Western culture latch onto. Excelling in sports and heading to

Ivy League schools will provide a shorthand for “success” in the sometimes superficia­l ways that some parents and grandparen­ts seem to covet and value.

If you want to let your grandparen­ts know how this affects you, express your feelings using “I statements”: “I know that my cousins are doing well, but I’m doing really well, too. I feel like I’m often in their shadow when it comes to you. It would mean a lot to me if you understood that. Your good opinion means a lot to me.”

A few statements like this should open the door. I hope that your grandparen­ts choose to walk through it.

The most important approval you will receive is that which you give to yourself. Keep going on your own path to success.

Dear Amy: I started a new job about six months ago. One of my (male) colleagues has asked me around three times what my marital status is. Normally I’m pretty open about my life, but this query puts me off. I’ve dodged the question, but I’m wondering how you think I should handle it.

— Curious Colleague

Dear Curious: Don’t dodge. This is a natural instinct, but dodging just pushes this down the road.

If he brings up your marital status again, you could respond with: “Why do you keep asking me this?” Understand that when you do so, you open yourself up to his (possibly disingenuo­us) answer.

Regardless of how he responds, you should state: “That’s personal, and I don’t want to discuss it. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t bring this up again.”

Stating that this personal curiosity bothers you should end it. If he persists after you ask him to stop, he cannot claim that these are stray remarks, and your co-worker is opening himself up to violating company policy and a possible harassment claim.

Dear Amy: My wife and I had a great laugh over “Baffled,” the man who shaved his beard off and then wondered what it meant when his wife didn’t notice.

I have had various beards and goatees over most of the 50 years of our marriage. Every spring, I perform my annual “clean shave.” It has become a running joke how long it takes my wife and/or kids to notice. I think the record for not noticing was about a week.

The only shave which got a nearly instantane­ous reaction was when I shaved off my mustache. My wife started laughing and told me I looked like my brother.

— Hirsute in Denver

Dear Hirsute: I’ve received many responses from men who report that they’ve shaved off beards or mustaches, but people around them can’t quite put their finger on what’s different.

What I appreciate is that everyone who has responded says that they laugh about it.

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