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home : columns : dear harriette December 10, 2019

11/14/2019 7:54:00 AM
Reader can't move past childhood for kids

DEAR HARRIETTE: When I was growing up, my parents never had enough money to buy gifts for us kids. We were a family of seven, and money did not stretch that far. So every year at Christmas, my mother would bake a cake or make something else for us to eat that everybody could share.

I have not been able to get past what happened to me as a child in order to be there for my children. I have two kids, and my husband and I have good jobs. We can afford to give them multiple gifts -- not extravagant, but something. Still, I can't seem to get there. I find it so hard to shop for them because I get lost in thoughts of my past. What can I do to break through? -- Frozen

DEAR FROZEN: Why not bake a cake with your kids to celebrate the holidays? You can make that a tradition in a way that honors what your mother was able to do for you.

The next step can be to establish a new tradition. You can ask your children what they most want for Christmas. Let them suggest several items with the understanding that you would like to get them something special. There can be some surprise in the final outcome if you do not tell them what you are choosing. Once you have their lists, you can review them to see if you feel comfortable getting them each of the items they have listed, or if you will choose only one or two. Do your best to give your children the same number of items so that they don't mistakenly read anything in to the gifts they receive when they make comparisons.

Beyond that, you may want to consider a bit of therapy. You are holding on to some strong memories and experiences from your childhood. A professional may be able to help you unlock some of those old feelings and release them.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I work independently, so I am accustomed to hustling to get people to pay attention to me. I feel like I'm constantly pitching myself and my ideas. I am also actively following up on everything all the time. That's what I was taught when I had a job as a producer, but now I'm running into some roadblocks. I have noticed that people aren't answering my calls the way they used to. I think some people are avoiding me, and that's a terrible feeling.

My approach has always been to make it easier for people to respond to me by following up about three days after my initial call. That way they don't have to dig through their emails or phone messages to remember to call me. One client just told me that I am too pushy. She even called me a stalker. That doesn't seem fair. I consider myself efficient and responsive. What am I doing wrong? -- Unwitting Stalker

DEAR UNWITTING STALKER: Your follow-up methods don't seem to be working right now, so it's time to regroup. Following up after three days does seem aggressive -- unless you are facing a tight deadline. A week is a more normal follow-up interval. Also, an email or a text may be a better way to check in, as neither requires you to talk to the person. That way you aren't interrupting them when they are busy.

Take a moment to reassess your goals and your strategy for reaching out. Getting quiet and still as you contemplate this may help you to discover a softer way of reaching back to potential clients.

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