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I was recently at Lake Huron and saw two parents harass their young son, who was about 7 years old. He refused to jump off a huge boulder into the rocky water 15 feet below. His parents heckled him about it and said things like, “Thank you for not trusting me, son!” The boy looked scared. Granted, there were younger children jumping off the rocks. But I got sick of doing nothing but stare at these terrible parents. Should I have said something?
This was clearly not a blue ribbon day for these parents! But let’s not judge it too harshly on this single episode – although it can spark terrible memories for many of us of being pushed too hard. (We’ve all had bad days and done things we regret, right?)
However, I understand your desire to help a child in need. However, I worry that labeling parents as tyrants or direct criticism of their behavior could backfire on the child. In my experience, people react badly to unsolicited parenting advice. And the last thing we want is for them to dig their heels.
My advice for next time is to break the drama by inserting yourself into the role of the child. One could say to the parents: “At his age I was afraid of jumping off high rocks. Do you know what helped? Practice at lower altitudes until I feel more comfortable. To this day, I am grateful to my parents for their patience. ”Something like this can help without making it worse for the child.
Recently my boss (an executive in a hospital system) pulled me aside and told me she was going to nominate me for a nursing award. I’ve been a nurse at my hospital for a decade and have a reputation for giving everything. An email was sent to all employees today with a beautiful presentation that included a portrait of each nominee for the award and the history of their nomination. I was not there! I try to be stoic, but it hurts. I enjoyed the prospect of recognition from my employer. I’m not sure how (or if) to approach my boss about this. Advice?
I’m sorry for your hurt feelings – which are 100 percent understandable. Psychologically, it is often more difficult to deal with the loss of things that were promised to us than those that we just hoped for.
If you are sure you can have a quiet discussion about it, go to your boss and say, “I was surprised that after our interview I was not nominated for the award. Can you tell me what happened? “
Perhaps it was overruled or convinced that this was not your year. Or she just dropped the ball. I know this is easier said than done, but try to console yourself with your own knowledge that you are doing a great job – and that your boss has only confirmed it to you. And remember: next year won’t be that far!
I’m a teenager and I’m close to my grandparents who are in their early 80s. My cousin, who is also a teenager, recently announced that they are non-binary. They chose a new name and told us their pronouns are she / she. My grandparents fully support my cousin and usually get her name right, but when talking to me, they often screw up the pronouns. When I correct them they look nervous and forever apologize. I hate making them feel guilty. How carefully should I correct them?
Practice creates masters! I think you should keep correcting your grandparents (gently) so they are less mistaken when talking to your cousin. I also think that you should applaud them for how hard they try to support them. (It takes time to rewire old language habits.) To me, they sound like great grandparents. Make sure they know you think that way too.
For my birthday I am organizing a special event and ask those invited for a contribution of USD 70 per person. We are all in our 30s, childless and living well. These costs should not be borne by anyone except a friend who does not earn much and who previously complained to me about the cost of such celebrations. I would like to pay it, but I am not sure how to deal with it. Thoughts?
You can of course give any party you want. But I’m not a fan of pay-to-play events like yours. You put your friends in the awkward position of feeling like a wet blanket when they can’t afford it (despite your conclusion) or don’t want to spend $ 70 on your birthday or attend the event you choose.
Make sure your invitees know that if this event isn’t in their pocket, you’ll understand everything. As for your low-income friend, be direct: tell her you would be happy to treat her – but only if she wants to come.
If you need help with your uncomfortable situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on twitter.