Pressure To Have Children

SCENARIO

You and your partner have decided not have children; you’re happy with your life as it is. However Mom, Aunt Sally and your best friend just aren’t listening and are pressuring you to start that family. How do you tell them to mind their own business without hurting their feelings?

CONSIDER THIS

JILL:
Life decisions such as not to have children come from a deep and private place. I want to emphasize ‘private’. You have to make a decision that is right for you and your partner and at the end of the day that is all that matters.

One of the quickest ways to bring this to an end would be to have the family together for dinner. You need to tell them ‘we know that you love us and want the best for us but we have made a decision to not have children. We are asking you to respect this by not pressuring us anymore. Now we want to get on with our lives.” The words will come to you.
While it feels a little overwhelming to do this en masse, having to deal with each person one on one is difficult and besides you want to get on with your lives. For those that didn’t come to the dinner the words that you used there will work with them. Confront these people together where possible, it will help.
For the really persistent use the ultimate words ‘this is really none of your business.” If certain people still don’t get it and respect your choice then they are a negative voice and you have to decide if you really want them in your lives as you move forward.

VICKI:
Believe it or not most people don’t realize that their probing is either uncomfortable or hurtful. It really isn’t their intention to be that way, they may actually believe that they’re helping because if you listen to them they believe you’ll be happier. It can be a big case of misguided love.

Respond by letting them know how their comments honestly make you feel. An example would be: “My husband and I have decided not to have children, please don’t ask me again as it makes feel very uncomfortable and judged.” When they understand they are upsetting you they will be more apt to stop.

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People Pleasing & Healthy Boundaries

QUESTION

I have what Oprah calls the need to please, why do I always say ‘yes’ whenever someone asks me to do something? I just volunteered to drive my daughter and some kids around Saturday morning for a bottle drive to raise money for a school trip. I have a hundred other things to do on Saturday why didn’t I just say that I was too busy?

ANSWER

VICKI:
The majority of people pleasers will tell you that they didn’t want to let someone down, yet that is only the surface answer. Disappointing another is about how you will be viewed by that person and yourself. It can be really debilitating to live for other people’s impressions or opinions of you. It can be totally devastating if you judge yourself as a good or bad person based on the need to do or prove something to others. The bottom line is this is a boundary issue. You need to learn to set healthy boundaries.

People, yourself included, can only do what they have within themselves to do. Frequently the person who says yes to everything has little to give because their sense of obligation leave them feeling resentful, which leaves no room to give from the heart.

The next time you are asked to do something for someone else don’t respond immediately. Just stop. Ask yourself if you have the time and if you want to do this. If the answer is negative just say no – people pleasing is like a bad drug.

There is a book called “Where To Draw The Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Everyday” by Anne Katherine. You may find this book very helpful.

JILL:
You need to look at what is behind your inability to say “I’m too busy”.
Are you trying to be supermom?
Are you subconsciously saying ‘look at how much I do’?
Do you want people to not think badly of you?
In fact, not being able to set boundaries does not make you likeable, strong or perfect.

Here are some ways to beat the urge:
Pause before answering: Train yourself that no one has the right to demand an answer right away. It may be their moment of panic but that doesn’t make it yours.

Just say NO:
Ask yourself what is going to happen? The world does not come to an end. You are merely saying “Sorry, I am too busy”’ they will find someone else.

Don’t over explain: That makes you seem defensive and gives them an opportunity to change your mind.

Visual record of your busyness: One thing that helps is when you can see how busy you are. Never answer until you have checked your day timer. Have a schedule by your home phone that shows what is happening on each day and at what time. If someone requests your time when you are out again check your day timer or blackberry before answering.

Middle of the road: If it a request that you would like to help with but time is a factor. Find the mid-way point “I can sew the costumes, bake the cookies but someone else will have to pick them up. If that doesn’t work don’t agree to it, you offered a compromise that is enough.

Gifts From Hell 1 & 2

WHEN IS A BARGAIN JUST JUNK?

QUESTION

My mother and sister-in-law are garage sale junkies. During the holidays, I receive gifts for my kids picked up from their garage sale and thrift store hunts. Trust me, I’m not a snob. I’m talking about torn and written on books, toys that don’t work and items with $.25 written in magic marker on the item. It’s hard to believe they even wrap such things. They both can easily afford to buy a new item from the dollar store – it’s more about their desire to “get a deal.” Besides, I have told them in the past that gifts are not necessary especially since I don’t give them anything since they both have rudely requested that no one give them any more junk during the holidays.

Do you have any suggestions on how to get the stuff from coming in the door without sounding rude? Most of the items are so bad they are not even suitable to donate to a charity. I just don’t get it.

ANSWER


JILL:

What is rude is the fact that your mother and sister-in-law are giving gifts with no thought or care. Let me say very clearly that this has nothing to do with what they cost but is all about the condition that they are in. I have seen bargain items, cleaned up and presented in such a way that they are transferred into special and thoughtful gifts. That is not what is happening here.

My answer is, be honest with them. Tell them that their grandchildren and nieces/nephews deserve clean and intact gifts. Then paraphrasing what you wrote to us. You could then finish with one of two solutions.
1. That you have respected their request about no more gifts and would appreciate the same consideration.
2. You will provide them with a short and reasonably priced list of what the children would like for Christmas. They must be bought from sources other than garage sales. Amazon has good quality second hand and for other items there are Bargain centers and dollar stores.

I know that you said that they don’t want to go to places liked the dollar store but by using that as one of your stipulations they will not be able to say that your objections are about the value of the gift.

VICKI:
Jill hit the nail on the head and as far as realistic or polite and direct suggestions I have nothing more to add. With that said, I have a little inner imp that’s dying to come out and make some mischief with this!

They say that actions speak louder than words, so take some action and dish it right back. You said that they requested no junk for the holidays – OK be respectful of that, however Christmas is now a year away and I’m sure your mother and sister-in-law’s birthdays will be coming up before then and you didn’t mention whether or not birthdays were off limits!

Keep two cardboard boxes somewhere you have room and when you see a garage sale go on in and look for the most beat up, especially broken, junk you can find. Things like one chipped plate. Wrap these things up individually and on their birthdays offer them their “SURPRISE BOX”.

Now do have a nice gift, a real gift set aside but out of their sight. Watch each of their expressions as they open their gag gifts and comment on their expressions, even if hey keep a poker face. When they are finished opening everything tell them that you can see from their expressions how disappointed they are in your choices. Let them know that that’s how you and the children feel when you receive broken gifts. Then hand them their real gifts and remind them that you love them, you just want them to understand how you feel and that you will make a list for them for the children as Jill suggested.

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BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

QUESTION

OK, you may laugh at this one but I need some help. My husband bought me a painting for Christmas and it is truly ugly. He wants to hang it in the living room and I want to burn it. What should I do? I don’t want to hurt his feelings but…!

ANSWER

JILL:
Four possible answers
1. Have the “Honey, I love you but………….” conversation
2. Hang it and learn to live with it.
3. Tell him that it would be perfect for the guest bedroom.
4. Accidentally drop and damage it one day while he is out of the house.

VICKI:
I’m a believer in “honesty is the best policy” and “the truth will set you free”.

You didn’t mention what initial reaction you gave him when you opened the painting. Keep in mind that he may have bought it thinking that it was your taste and he may not like it himself. He may have suggested hanging it in the living room if you expressed delight over it. If you told you loved it when you opened it it’s time to back track. Or you run the risk of hubby getting you more gifts you don’t appreciate – set the tone now!

As far as not hurting his feelings, it’s no what you say it’s how you say it. Sit him down and tell him the picture is not to your taste, this assures him that you aren’t insulting his taste in art, after all it isn’t like there’s a right or a wrong there. Ask him if you can set a date for the two of you to go shopping together to find a painting that you both enjoy for the living room. Then make a day out of it that will leave both of you with a terrific memory; that will end up being a priceless gift you will both treasure for years, especially when either of you look at the painting.

More Than A Business Dinner?

QUESTION

My female boss has invited me out for dinner. She says that it is to thank me for landing a big client. I’m a single guy and she has kind of flirted with me in the past. How can I make sure that the dinner is all business, as I don’t want to be dessert?

ANSWER

JILL:
It is important that you approach the evening with the attitude that it is just a thank you for a job well done. That doesn’t mean that you won’t be on your guard it just means that you will be professional in your behavior. Dress as you normally would for a business dinner. Avoid colors or materials that might appear casual or sensual.

Watch your alcohol consumption.It is difficult to talk about business for an entire evening. However, choose other topics carefully. Stay away from discussing relationships. Talk about trips, hobbies, books, music; anything that is neutral.

You bring the evening to an end at the restaurant. Be gracious; thank her for the dinner and leave. Don’t do the ‘let’s go for a nightcap routine’. The invitation was only for dinner and you cannot be blamed for staying within those boundaries.

If you are really uncomfortable with the whole dinner idea you could suggest a lunch instead and ask if certain members of your team who helped you in land the client be invited. This will also help to illustrate your leadership qualities.

VICKI:
You didn’t mention your boss is in a relationship or not. There is a chance that the flirting she did was meant to be innocent and fun and you have nothing to worry about. However, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Be the one to steer the conversation. If your boss is already thanking you for landing a big one then this can be an opportunity for you to score points by offering her up some new business ideas. If you landed a new big account then you can sell. Use those skills to pitch your ideas to your boss. If she listens intently then she is interested in business. If she tells you that the evening isn’t for work then you know exactly where you stand.

If by chance it should come right down to it and she propositions you don’t hesitate to tell her that you enjoy working for her and how much you respect her as an employer and that you don’t believe in inter-office dating as you’ve seen others who have done so and found it to interfere with the company’s bottom line. This way she sees you have loyalty to the company and she doesn’t feel rejected.

Should You Lend Family And Friends Money?

QUESTION

I’ve been dating a man for 3 months; he’s polite, considerate and generally very supportive. He was let go from his job a month ago and has no savings to fall back on. He has been looking hard for work, but in his field there’s not much just before the holidays.

He recently asked me if he could borrow $1,000 from me. I told him that I needed to think about it. I have savings and can spare the money right now. However, I’ve had bad experiences when it comes to lending money to men that I have dated. I swore I’d never to do it again. He is not at all like the men I have dated in the past and I do want to help him. Are there boundaries I can set or a way to protect myself in order to get the money back if I loan it to him?

ANSWER

VICKI:
When loaning or giving money, items, time or anything else of value, the rule is never loan what you cannot afford to lose. Keep in mind that you need to think for the future and not the present. If you lost this $1,000 would you still have enough in your savings for an emergency; for example would it make a difference if you lost your employment and couldn’t find work again for six months?

With that said, I stumbled upon a great article called, The Best Ways To Loan Money To Friends And Family from Geri Detweiler for credit.com. It covers all the important issues of setting a fair interest rate, getting an agreement in writing and setting up a formal payment arrangement.

If you do not choose to lend your boyfriend money you may think of employing him to do some odd jobs that you need done such as renovations including house painting. This way he has earned the money and there is nothing to be paid back.

No matter which you choose, remember that you must be true to yourself and make sure that you are taken care of. Your boyfriend’s present predicament is a great example of this.

JILL:
Even though you asked about boundaries and ways to protect yourself, I would like to address whether or not you should lend the money. So here are a few things to think about.

1. Why have you been able to accumulate savings but he hasn’t?
2. Would you ask a boyfriend of 3 months for $1,000-?
3. Pretend for a minute that he didn’t ask for any money, would you be perturbed by the other facts; that he is out of work, has no money to fall back on and cannot find work at this time of year?
4. What will you do if he doesn’t find work, cannot pay you back or asks for more?

I understand that everyone falls on difficult times and sometimes all they need is a helping hand. I just want to make sure that you have looked at the situation from all the angles. Things are currently unstable economically; you must make sure that you protect yourself first.

Age Difference In A Relationship & The Holidays

QUESTION

I have been in a wonderful relationship with a much older man for over a year now. I am in my late 20’s and he is in his early 50’s and although we both were reluctant at first to start a relationship we have found ourselves to be very happy together. With the holidays approaching we are wondering how to introduce each other to our families. I am very close in age to one of his children and he is close in age to my parents. We want to make this as easy on everyone as possible and would love any suggestions you have on breaking the news of our relationship and the age difference to our families.

ANSWER

JILL:
The only important fact is that you are ‘very happy together’. Those who want the best for you both and who love you unconditionally will accept the relationship for that reason. In the first initial moments ‘yes’ the age difference will be a surprise but the more you both make an issue of it the more of an issue it will be.

At one of the family gatherings there may be someone who makes a comment about the two of you, which will probably be followed by an awkward silence. Don’t be defensive, that indicates that on some level the person has struck a cord with you. Just smile and respond quietly.Good replies are: “I’m sorry that you feel that way”.“This really isn’t the time or place”.“___________ & I care for one another and we feel that is all that matters”.

You should each introduce yourself before hand to the person who is giving each respective family gathering. This will break the ice and establish you as an individual and as a courteous person.A phone call to say, “Hello, my name is _________ I will be ________’s guest on _______. I was wondering if there was anything that I could bring.” Whether the answer is yes or no be sure to take a thoughtful gift for the hostess (es). It is not only polite but an indication that all you want is to spend a pleasant time with the family.

So relax, be yourself and enjoy your special relationship.

VICKI:

Do tell your respective families’ before the holidays. To just walk in with your partner may be a shock. Start out by telling them how happy you are in your relationship; let them know the ways you have enriched each other’s lives. Your happiness will be the key to your family opening their minds up, whether a little or a lot.

Then let them know about the age difference. If you have had any concerns about how the age difference may affect your relationship be honest and let your families’ know. This will demonstrate to them that you have indeed thought things out and are acting with a level head.

Before you each talk to your families make sure you are in a positive state of mind. Whatever you do guard yourself from being defensive. Remember that when we expect the worst from other that’s generally what we get; instead be in a positive state of mind and expect the best of them. Then do follow through, as Jill said, and make those introduction phone calls.

Congratulations on finding a relationship that brings you both true joy.

Mom Needs To Let Go Of Adult Son

QUESTION

I am 24, out of college and looking for work. My mom calls me three to four times a day, checking on me and offering advice. When I go home it’s the same thing, she tells me about the mistakes she made and how she doesn’t want me to do the same things. I’m starting to feel real frustrated. How can I tell her to butt out of my life without hurting her feelings?

ANSWER

JILL:
What is happening is actually not about you but about your overly loving mom. She needs to move forward and embrace the second half of her life. You need to have the “Mom, I love you but………..” talk. I would recommend that it is done face to face on one of your trips home. Sit quietly in the comfort of her home and engage in an adult conversation. She has to see you as her grown up son, who needs to move on with his life and make his own mistakes. Stay away from giving examples as they are in the past. Everything that you say is about taking you both to the next level; you as an independent man (and isn’t that really what she has raised you to be) and her putting herself first.

She will probably get emotional but keep going. If you don’t have this conversation your loving relationship will start to crumble under the weight of her interference.
Tell her when you will be calling her; at first this may still be more than you want but you can decrease this slowly.

After you have gone back to your life, you need to set verbal boundaries
If she starts to call unannounced say that you will catch up with her on whatever day you have picked.

Initially keep the conversations upbeat and general. Ask her questions about her life and encourage (don’t push) her to follow new interests.
When she strays into advice mode, just say firmly “Thanks mom, I’ll work it out”.
If she starts to criticize something you have done “Mom, I really want to share this with you and I would like you to just listen.”

Lastly, ask her for her opinion. Now that might seem to contradict what you are working towards but it isn’t. It will make her feel needed and with time stop her from worrying about every little thing you are doing. She will relax and start to realize that for the big stuff you still value her experience.

VICKI:
Your frustration is understandable on many levels:
1. You’re holding back from speaking your truth and that creates disharmony within.
2. You’re boundaries are being crossed and that causes anger.
3. When your parent offers unsolicited advice or questions you it may appear as if they have no faith in you; this can make a person feel small.

Jill was absolutely correct when she said that it is not about you. Your mother has obviously made choices in her life that she regrets and is trying to save you from having regrets. She is guilty of loving you the best way she knows how.

Follow the steps Jill has outlined for you and make sure when you speak to your mother that you acknowledge that you understand that she is acting out of love and that you love her for it.

Make sure you tell her exactly how her actions affect you; be honest about your feelings using gentle words, however when letting her know what you expect from her be firm.