While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On asking a partner to change:
I am moving from a friendship into possibly more with someone. As things have gotten more emotionally intimate, my anxiety level has ratcheted up to the point where I thought about asking him to make some small tweaks to help mitigate it — for example, to plan things further in advance or communicate more often.
I decided against asking. The more I get to know him, the more I realize he is reliable, considerate and mature. If I ask him to do things differently, even if the differences seem small, and even if he is willing, for each thing he changes for me, that’s a piece of the real him that I miss out on knowing. So, I have decided to deal with my anxiety in other ways (awareness, exercise, talking with friends) so I can let this thing unfold in its own way.
On looking to the next big thing instead of staying put:
I used to be restless, especially with overseas travel and jobs. Then I realized two things: I wouldn’t be able to have the long-term things I really wanted with this lifestyle — a partner, a family, a stable place to raise my family — and that this wanderlust was really the easy way out.
While some think the transition to foreign places must be incredibly hard, the challenges come down to learning how to ask where the bathroom is and how to call for a cab. Every day brings new, dramatic successes because you start practically from zero. That gives a lot of positive feelings of accomplishment but, really, I was not achieving much.
I realized the real challenges were the things I’d always dismissed as “boring” or “easy.” I still want to travel and live overseas, but now I plan it within the context of my family, and I think hard about what I want to get out of it rather than follow the blind path away from whatever I want to avoid.
On accepting gifts from an abusive parent:
I’m surprised more people don’t employ the tool I call the “junk money” fund. This is an account where you put any money you receive that’s questionable, unexpected or unwanted. You don’t spend this money until you have a questionable, unexpected or unwanted expense.
No one can foretell the future. The child of an abuser may find himself or herself having to pay for the abusive parent’s care. It would be fitting if junk money were available for that purpose. Using the parent’s own money would free the child from the resentment such support likely would cause.
On 18-year-olds and unsupervised camping trips:
There is nothing they can do while camping that they can’t do anytime, anywhere.
When my kids went on their senior trips, my wife was telling them all the rules. Their eyes were in a blank stare, like she was from a “Peanuts” cartoon . . . wah wahwah wah wah.
I walked up, looked my son in the eye and said, “No births, no deaths, no police, have a great time!” He understood that.
Admittedly, it was more difficult to say it to my daughter, but I did it.