Advice or Meddling? Guidance or Interference? A Parent’s Dilemma!

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Oldster’s love to share their wisdom with others; especially their own children, and experience does provide new insight. If you don’t learn from history, you or your posterity are bound to repeat the same mistakes.

I recall writing a letter to my oldest daughter before computers came on the scene. I admit I sometimes waxed poetic and a bit philosophical. Her response sizzled with anger and sarcasm. “Is this some more of your good advice?”

I was stung and surprised. What had I said that offended her so much? Did my efforts to help come across as meddling or had I actually “hit the nail on the head” and brought her up short?

I will never know. Her rocky start into a difficult marriage finally ended in divorce, but not after bearing five beautiful children.  We never know how our words will impact others because we cannot see into their minds or know what they’re going through at the time. That’s what makes relationships so doggone difficult.

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Sometimes our children actually ask for our advice. I always tell them “You’re the only one that can make that decision, but I can tell you what helps me when I have tough choices to make;” then I bloviate about taking a sheet of paper and writing PRO on one side and CON on the other, followed by a list of the positives and negatives about each choice and an evaluation.

To tell you the truth, I’ve used this process most of my life and it seems to work quite well. Whether my children actually follow this method is another matter. I remember the wisdom my mother shared when I married at age 17.

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“You’re on your own now. I don’t want you to come running home whenever you have a problem. You and your husband should work out your differences together;” sage advice that served me well.

Did I resent her “meddling?” Not in the least. I knew that she was right. She had married at 16 herself and knew the obstacles. I accepted the fact that there was no turning back. The only thing that hurt was that she had closed the door on my youth.

Our job as parents isn’t to coddle our children forever; it’s to send them off into life prepared for the difficult decisions and dangers that lie ahead. It is to help them learn how to be independent. Children who must talk to their parents every day in order to make hard decisions are not equipped to survive the rigors of adulthood.

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Teaching your children to be independent and to accept adult responsibilities is a lonely job. You may not hear from them as often as you would like. Their preferences and life styles may be far different from the ones you would have chosen for them. Their political and religious persuasions may contrast sharply with your own. The only thing that keeps you together is blood, shared memories, and if you’re lucky love.

I take pride in my children’s accomplishments. They have used their talents and interests to provide fulfilling and interesting lives. They are helpful, kind, and hardworking. What more could a mother want?

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How NOT to get Snookered — are your Vulnerabilities Showing?

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“An Open Book” 16×20 mixed media on canvas (SOLD) PRINTS AVAILABLE

Young couples typically want what’s best for their children. As far as reasonably possible, parents will fork over the cash to provide their children with the best. I must admit I’ve done the same thing over the years and learned the hard way that not every salesman is honest, nor is every purchase a smart one.

After going through several “duds,” I finally told my children they could ask for anything at Christmas time except those nasty toys they saw on T.V. Why? Because I’d learned that most did not deliver what they promised. A few items were not only unsafe, but downright scary.

Unfortunately, I have a soft spot for learning. If there’s a toy or a tool out there that promises to help my child tell time, tie his own shoelaces or eat his peas, I’m there. Convince me you have something to shorten the time it takes to potty train, and I’ll shell out the necessary bucks. Even promises to “equip my child for the future” may widen my eyes and indicate that I’m ripe for the kill.

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“With these Hands — Love” oil on acrylic under painting

I had on that sappy face the day an encyclopedia salesman rang my doorbell and greeted me with his eager enthusiasm. At the time, I had a one year old and a two year old. He drew them in and praised me for wanting the best for them. He showed me my children’s future turning page after shiny hope-filled page of his illustrious, illustrated leather-bound set.

I pulled my husband into the decision making, and he, too, crumbled like a cookie. We both swallowed the Rep’s spiel hook, line, and stinker. Too late we realized that by the time our children were old enough to use them, the books would be outdated.

With the advent of the internet, the whole encyclopedia business was a washout. I had to smile when a recent T.V. commercial showed an encyclopedia CEO telling his staff: “We’re back” while the camera cuts to a toddler punching a chubby finger on the “Buy” button of his parent’s smart phone over and over again. The camera then zooms out and pans the encyclopedia company workers boxing and shipping hundreds and thousands of books.

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“Through her Eyes” original sketch of live model

Most women are insecure in their own worth and beauty. Constantly on a diet, or trying out different kinds of makeup and skin care products is the norm. I myself fell into the hypnotizing web of Dr. Oz and ordered a “free sample” of one of his recommended products. In order to get the “free” sample, I had to give them my credit card information. Before I knew it, I was being shipped the product, without asking for it, at $100 a pop!

Although I was told when I complained: “There are many satisfied users;” their endorsement in no way made me smile. I had broken out in a red rash and pimples while using their product for only a few days. I’m still working to stop the shipments and block payments, even though I never ordered a single product. Again, I was told that “somewhere in the fine print” was a time limit for complaints. Sneaky!

Weight loss is another gimmick for selling products that don’t work or that may actually do more harm than good. Many products interfere with medications you may be taking. Herbal products often interfere with your metabolism and neutralize thyroid or heart medicines prescribed by your doctor. Be wary of all promises. You may end up like I did with an expensive bottle of weight loss meds that I couldn’t take.

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Art and Collectibles Display at show

I once was a salesperson myself, showing Avon products door to door in a time when it was much safer to pound the streets. Young and naïve, I thought that most people were pretty much the same. I learned that you never know “what’s behind closed doors.” What I saw, heard, and witnessed made me realize how different we all are in the way we choose to live our lives.

Selling is challenging, difficult, and disparaging work. Every time a sale’s “pitch” is made the seller’s reputation is on the line. This is the main reason I chose not to make this my full-time occupation. I simply could not sell what I did not believe in or trust myself.

“Buyer Beware” is not only sound cautionary advice, the reverse is also true: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”