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home : columns : dear harriette October 20, 2020

8/19/2020 8:00:00 AM
Younger siblings struggle with split custody

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am 28 years old, and my parents recently divorced and live separately. My parents have 50-50 custody of my 12- and 14-year-old brother and sister. I've noticed how unhappy my siblings are, going back and forth between my parents' houses. They said they can't take the fighting anymore and asked to come and live with me. I am totally fine with that if it means better living conditions for them, but I'm worried about how it will make our parents feel. Should I tell them they can't live with me, or should I talk to my parents? -- Love My Siblings

DEAR LOVE MY SIBLINGS: Before you do anything, talk to your parents. Since your siblings are minors, you cannot just take them anyway. It has to be a coordinated effort. You should let your parents know how unhappy your siblings are and that they have asked to come live with you. Suggest this move as an interim stop on their journey. Since the divorce is fresh and the emotional wounds are still raw, your siblings just want a break from the pain. Ask your parents to consider their feelings. Assure them that you will take good care of them during this traumatic period.

Your parents will need to feel that they will still be connected to the children, or the guilt might get the best of them, Let them know that you will make sure that they see their kids, but that right now they want to be in neutral territory -- and you can provide that for them.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son just graduated from high school and has decided not to enter college this fall. He wants to get a job and take some time off. He is my only child, and I want him to have the same education I had so he will have more options in life, but he says school is not for him and that he wants to learn from the world. I admire his optimism, but skipping college means missing some of those vital world lessons. Is there anything I can do to change his mind? -- Get a Degree

DEAR GET A DEGREE: Given that college is likely to be remote this coming school year, your son may be making a good decision for himself -- at least in the short term.

Rather than pressuring your son to go to college, talk to him about his future. Find out what he wants to do with his life. What type of job does he want? When he opens up about his plans, ask him to research what his field of interest pays. He should get a clear picture of his earning potential based upon his interests. This is the reality check that may help him to determine what type of education he needs to provide for himself. Sometimes vocational school is a viable option. Know that jobs in tech and I.T. are plentiful these days and can be lucrative. The educational path for those is often shorter than college, so there are many options to consider.

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





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