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home : columns : dear harriette January 25, 2020

12/9/2019 8:15:00 AM
Daughter too self-involved to make time for nanny

DEAR HARRIETTE: When my daughter was a baby, we had a nanny who took care of her for many years. Time has passed so quickly; my daughter is about to go to college.

We recently heard from our former nanny, and she really wants to see my daughter before she goes away. The problem is that my daughter is so caught up in her friends and school that she is usually too busy to think about the elders in her life -- even though she loves her nanny a lot. How can I get her to slow down for a minute and make time to see this person who is important to her? -- Nanny Love

DEAR NANNY LOVE: Now is the time to put your foot down. Schedule a time when you invite your nanny over or organize a meal at a restaurant or some other mutually comfortable location. Let your daughter know that it is a requirement that she make time to visit with her former nanny. Don't set it up as a punishment; instead, encourage her to be excited by letting her know how special it is that her nanny wants to see her after so many years. In the end, though, make it clear that you expect your daughter to show up with a smile on her face to spend time with this trusted extended family member. If she refuses, take away some privileges until she is forced to wake up to who she is and what she values.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to the funeral of a friend's father. He was a prominent person in his hometown, and the funeral was very nice -- as those things go. My friend, however, was very upset.

When we were growing up, my friend used to say that her father was mean to her and her brother. Now that he has died, those old memories are bubbling up, and she is upset again.

At the family gathering after the funeral, we had to take her to another room when she started shouting about how mad she was at her dad. She has a right to her feelings, but the way she handled herself at the funeral was not good. I think she needs help in order to get past these bad memories. How can I get her to see this? -- Grieving Friend

DEAR GRIEVING FRIEND: Death stirs up all manner of emotions, and people do need to go through whatever surfaces. That doesn't mean that your friend should have gotten a pass for being rude at her father's funeral. It does mean that now would be the perfect time to get professional help to sort through what she's feeling.

As her friend, you can gently suggest that a grief counselor might be useful as she explores her emotions. Tell her that you wish you had the training and experience to help her properly, but you don't. Encourage her to engage a professional who can listen to her objectively and help her understand what her thoughts and feelings mean and how to process them.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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