Dear Gretchen: My dad is very important to me and also very sick. I live in another state and would like to live closer to him. I tried to speak to my man about moving. He doesn’t really want to. I don’t know how to convince him to come with me. I don’t want to end our relationship, but I need to be with my dad. HELP? – Daddy’s Girl in Las Vegas, NV
Dear Daddy’s Girl: I’m sorry to hear that your dad is sick. Parents are important and a father holds a special place in his daughter’s heart. If you will regret not being with your dad, then go. In the end, you have to be able to live with the choices you have made. Understand that while your dad is special and important to you, your man does not have the same relationship with him and making a request for him to move is a big ask. As a first step, why don’t you and your boyfriend go to visit your dad? While you are there, you can look at places to live and explore the job market. Making a big move can take time. If you break it down into steps, your man might just come around. Best wishes to your family. – 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: My 16-year-old son wants to go trick-or-treating with his friends. When I told him he was too old, he was upset because his 10-year-old sister will be going. What can I offer up for him to do so that he can still join in on the fun? – The Wicked Witch in Sherman Oaks, CA.
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