May #AskGretchen: Relationships, Unsolicited Advice, Angry Boss, & Stealing

#Ask Gretchen; Let's get real.Dear Gretchen: My boyfriend is always on his phone when we’re together. It makes me feel like I’m not important to him. I only see him once a week for 2-hours. What should I say without sounding whiny?– Feeling forgotten in Detroit, MI

Dear Feeling Forgotten: Stating what you want is powerful. Tell your boyfriend in a kind way, that when you are together, you would love it if the two of you could both put away your phones. Let him know that since you don’t see him as much as you would like, you want the time that you do spend together to be focused. After all, you deserve his attention. If he can’t give it to you, it might be time for you to dial a new set of digits of someone who can.– Gretchen


Dear Gretchen: I’m a new mom and am getting a lot of opinions from friends, family, and even strangers about how I should raise my daughter. People are chiming in on everything from breastfeeding, to sleep training, to immunizations. It makes my head spin and I find that I’m second-guessing myself. How do I tell these people to keep their opinions to themselves? – Sleep deprived in Studio City, CA

Dear Sleep Deprived: Welcome to motherhood! People everywhere bond over giving their opinions. Seemingly harmless folks, take it upon themselves to bestow their well-earned knowledge onto others.  Each time you receive a piece of advice, remember that the person giving it thinks they are helping. They are not trying to overwhelm you. On the contrary, they are trying to save you from some of the past mistakes they have experienced or some danger that they think you need to know about. The problem with unsolicited parenting advice is that the stakes are high. While you may still be figuring out your sleeping arrangements with the baby, if you will give her a pacifier, or immunize her before her blood-brain barrier has a chance to form, these other mother’s feel seasoned and at liberty to share their well-meaning opinions with you. Even though you may not want or need their words of wisdom, simply thank them and take what you like and leave the rest.  You are your daughter’s mom. The way you parent doesn’t have to get the golden seal of approval from anyone at the playground. It only has to work for you and your child. Let your maternal instincts lead. Trust yourself. You’ve got this. – Gretchen



Dear Gretchen: My boss is always angry. He stomps around the office and often yells when he is speaking. I try not to take it personally, but it’s challenging. Any tips on how to deal with him? – Walking on eggshells in Duluth, MN

Dear Eggshells: Your boss may not know that he is behaving this way. Oftentimes people are afraid to confront a bully. One of the simplest ways to execute a pattern interrupt would be to schedule a meeting with him and ask him if you have done something to upset him. My guess is he will probably say no and inquire about why you are asking. You can tell him that recently he has seemed upset and that you wanted to make sure that it wasn’t because of you. This will illuminate the problem without you having to walk on eggshells or cower. It will also give him a chance to notice his behavior. If you are doing something, you will open the door for him to tell you and you will have the opportunity to course correct. Although you may be nervous to approach your boss, getting it out in the open will show your strength and openness and may even change his attitude. – Gretchen



Dear Gretchen: My 10-year-old stole money that I had on the kitchen counter. He admitted it, gave it back, and said he was sorry. I was livid that he would steal. What is an appropriate consequence? I don’t want him to turn into a thief. – Dad in Memphis, TN

Dear Dad: Give him a way to make it right where he can learn the value of money. One suggestion is having him go door-to-door in your neighborhood and asking the neighbors to hire him to work. Even though he is only 10, there are many things he can do. He can pick up dog poop, walk dogs, wash windows, rake leaves, bring in trashcans, sort recycling and so on. Have him make a list of jobs and a speech in advance so that he is prepared when he knocks on doors. Let him know that until he earns the amount of money that he stole, he is restricted from electronics (or whatever makes sense). Explain that theft comes with consequences and that even though you do believe he is sorry, there are still repercussions to his actions. Once he has worked it off by doing jobs that do not come from you, have him donate the money to a charity. You will teach him the value of money, how to ask for work and do work, the meaning of an actual consequence, and you will give him the lesson of grace by letting him make it right. – Gretchen

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