February #AskGretchen: Black History Month, Dealing with the Ex, Getting in Touch, and Burn Out

#AskGretchen - Let's Get Real
Dear Gretchen: What are some good book options or approaches for elementary school children to discuss Black History Month? My kids are ages 5 and 7. My husband and I would like to have a larger discussion but not sure how or where to start. —Amanda from Hoboken, NJ

Dear Amanda: One of my favorite ways to teach kids about any new idea is to take them to organized events that offer experiences. There will be many places celebrating Black History Month ranging from museums to libraries, to schools to cultural centers. Choose an outing that seems like a good fit for your kids and take them to it. The experience will spark discussion. You can also share about which African Americans have been the most influential in your life in terms that they can understand. Getting age appropriate books at the library is another good way to introduce a new concept. If you are feeling especially creative, have a soul food themed cuisine night and choose some new recipes for them to try. Have fun! – Gretchen

Dear Gretchen: It’s going to be my ex-wife’s birthday. This is the first time we haven’t celebrated together in 20 years. Should I do something to acknowledge her? We are on okay terms, but I don’t want to set the wrong precedent or cause confusion for our 10-year-old daughter. Do I give my daughter a gift to give her mom? — Confused in Charlotte, NC

Dear Confused: What a compassionate question. I understand that you want to do this gracefully. The good and bad news is, there is no right or wrong answer. Kindness is always the way. A simple birthday card from you is appropriate. Even though you are divorced it doesn’t erase the time you’ve spent together. It would also be nice if you made sure that your daughter had a card or gift for her mom expressing her love to her. Celebrations can be tricky. You will get the hang of what works for you and this new arrangement. – Gretchen

Dear Gretchen: How should I approach a friend that I haven’t spoken to in over three years? No incidents happened other than life. — Pam Bingham, Van Nuys, CA

Dear Pam: Life gets busy. Just because you haven’t spoken in three years doesn’t mean that you can’t start speaking again now. I have friends that I cycle in and out of communication with. Sometimes we go for long periods without speaking and then pick up where we left off. Since you are thinking about her, pick up the phone or drop her an email. Tell her she’s be on your mind and that you can’t believe how much time has gone by and that you didn’t want to let another day pass without saying hello. She will be glad to hear from you. -Gretchen

Dear Gretchen: My 9-year old son is a straight A student and outgoing, but isn’t motivated or excited by school this semester. Do you have any recommendations how my husband and I can give him interesting academic projects, activities or apps outside school that will be fun for him after school but not exhaust him? — Catherine from Charleston, SC

Dear Catherine: Kids are over programmed and have too many things to do and too many places to be. Let your son enjoy his time and see what he naturally gravitates too. I am not suggesting that he be allowed to watch TV or play video games for hours on end but I also don’t think that he needs to do more academics, projects, or planned activities. Kids have more homework and outside activities than ever before and he might be burnt out. I know I get burnt out from all the activities and school work that my kids do. Allowing him to have free time is a true gift that you can give to him to decompress, use his imagination, and get rejuvenated. And, it will give you some breathing room as well. With a little less pressure, his motivation will come back. – Gretchen

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