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home : columns : dear harriette February 28, 2020

12/27/2019 9:16:00 AM
Parent wants son to feel pride in his family life

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son goes to a private school with some very wealthy people. They don't generally flaunt their wealth, but around the holidays, it becomes apparent. Most of my son's friends are traveling to different parts of the world for the end of the year. We, on the other hand, live modestly. My son received a generous scholarship to the school, which is why he can even go there.

I want my son to feel good about himself and his life, but that is hard to do when he can't help but compare himself to his peers. What can I do to remind my son of the value of his own life and family? -- Family Values

DEAR FAMILY VALUES: Exposing your son to experiences beyond his personal background is smart. You are setting him up to understand that the world is filled with all kinds of people and rungs on the socioeconomic ladder. What you have to be mindful of is ensuring that your son understands that the way that you live is OK, too. Rich people do not have the corner on happiness or good health. Be sure to point that out to your son.

Also have him do public service. In this way, he can observe and support people who may have greater needs than he does. This will help him to see that the spectrum of human experience is vast. The more you expose him to, the better off he will be in assessing his own life.

In terms of what he does on holiday breaks, make sure that you create loving gatherings during the holidays that include family, friends and even those in need. He can talk about that as his friends share their experiences.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother is getting old and a bit frail. She has had a few setbacks that have slowed her down. My 10-year-old daughter went to visit her grandma recently, and she got scared; her grandma now uses a walker and looks and sounds much more fragile than before. My daughter didn't want to go over to hug her because she was afraid. How can I get my daughter to want to spend time with her grandmother? We don't know how long we will have her. I don't want her to miss out on these precious moments. -- Being With Grandma

DEAR BEING WITH GRANDMA: Set yourself up as the bridge for bond-building between your mother and your daughter. When you visit with her, set up activities that are easy to complete that both will enjoy. This could be making cookies, telling stories or just being together. Take the lead so that you avoid awkwardness.

Talk to your daughter when you two are alone. Tell her stories of your growing up and what you and your mother did together. Suggest things that they can do. Acknowledge that your mother is getting old and frail, but she still loves your daughter. Encourage your daughter to spend time with her so that she can build memories that she will always have in the future.

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