Have a question? #AskGretchen!
Gretchen answers questions on Life, Business, Relationships, Love, Money, Sex, Parenting, Friendships, and more. This week...a sixteen year old who wants to go trick-or-treating, aging parents and more...
Dear Wicked: Put away your broomstick, as all is not lost. Your son can still have plenty of Halloween fun. Ask him if he would like to dress up and take your 10-year-old trick-or-treating this year while you stay home and pass out candy? Or, have him pass out candy to the kids who come to the door. You can also allow him to invite over a few friends and let them watch Halloween movies, eat candy, and even dress up and hang out in front of the house. Hosting a Halloween party for his friends would also be a good way for him to still feel a part of. And if you really want to go big, have him and his friends create a haunted house! This is always a blast (whatever the age). - Gretchen
Dear Gretchen: Before our son was born my husband and I agreed that I would stay home with the baby for two years. After that, he would go to kindergarten, and I would start my own marketing consulting agency. Now, two years later, we are following through with our plan, but I cannot help feeling like I am letting our son down. We picked a great kindergarten for him where he seems to enjoy going (he just started so we'll have to see how it develops) and I am extremely excited about finally having some time to focus on my business, but I keep wondering - would he be better off had I decided to stay home with him for at least another year? - Torn in Germany
Dear Torn: Welcome to motherhood. As a working mother myself, I encourage you to do what feels right to for you. There is no wrong answer. And, you can change your mind as you go. If not working is a valid option and you can swing it financially, then be with him. You never get the time back and it is so, so, so sweet. And short. If you want to work, then go for it. Kids with working parents are just as happy and healthy as those who have a stay-at-home parent. Sometimes they develop independence and resilience faster than their counterparts with parents at home. Know this; you are a great mom. Whatever you do will be right and perfect for your family. Either way, you and your son will both be fine. Your love for him will not change whether you work or keep him home. And in the end, that’s the thing that counts the most. - Gretchen
Dear Gretchen: My aging parents are now in their late 70s and starting to experience serious health issues. They are of a generation that doesn't like to discuss health or finances, and my dad is especially prideful in his ability to take care of his family.
My brother and I are worried about some of his increasing short-term memory problems and recent activities. While my father's past business did reasonably well, impending health costs will be high and my brother and I are worried that my father's current activities will put a real strain on their finances. Neither my brother nor I can afford to make up the difference, if they don't have adequate coverage or a solid plan for long-term care. How do we ask them to reveal their financial and long-term health plans without wounding their pride or making them feel invaded? Mom in the Middle in Studio City, CA
Dear Mom in the Middle: It sounds like it is time to sit down with your parents and your brother and have an honest conversation. The truth is your parents are getting older, and it is responsible to address the proverbial white elephant. If you root the discussion in love, and let your parents know that you would like to support them in ways that are meaningful to them, you will set the stage for an open conversation. Although it may feel like meddling, it is a responsible and kind act and should be discussed. If your parents are resistant and shut the conversation down, you can try again at a later date when they have had some time to think about it. You can also follow up with a letter or email with your specific questions to give them time to process before bringing it up again. If in the end they still want you to bud out, honor their wishes by giving them the dignity to keep their privacy. – Gretchen
Dear Gretchen: We are only three weeks into the school year, and my third-grade daughter has been benched four times for talking. Usually, I would be upset with her for being disruptive, but the apparent disruptions are happening during the “quiet” period at lunchtime where the students are supposed to be eating and not chatting, before being released to play. I think the rule is silly I do want her to follow the rules. Any suggestions on an appropriate consequence? Mother of a Chatty Kathy, Brooklyn, NY
Dear Mother of a Chatty Kathy: It can be so hard to enforce rules that we don’t agree with. Since your daughter is already receiving a consequence at school for talking when she isn’t supposed to, let that be enough. Discuss with her that there are different rules for different situations and environments. And while neither of you may agree with the rule, she should follow it because if she doesn’t, she will miss out on getting to play with her friends. Talk to her about her choices and ask her how she feels when she gets “benched” at lunch. Help her make the connection that her actions are causing consequences and encourage her to follow the rules so that she can enjoy recess. When the pain is too great, she will learn to keep the chatting under control until the appropriate time. Letting children have natural consequences without getting involved is often the very best way for them to learn a lesson. - Gretchen