Dear Amy: I was troubled by your response to Cathy S., who told her family to leave all their old hurts and issues at home for the holidays.
Suppressing those feelings may lead to more pleasant holiday get-togethers, but it also sounds like a recipe for superficial, distant relationships.
I like the idea of saying what you’re grateful for and trying to focus on the positive. But when conflict appears, the ideal would be to insist on more respectful healthy ways of managing it rather than pretending it doesn’t exist.
— Happy Families Take Work
Dear Happy Families: I understand your overall point, but “Cathy S” was not suggesting that her family should completely bury their wounds, gripes and hurts, but to recognize that there is a time, and a place, for airing them.
I think that asking family members to shelve their disagreements during a holiday gathering helps to create a reasonable boundary; if families concentrate on building positive experiences during these times, I believe it can give them more of a foundation to stand on, later.
Dear Amy: “The Wedding Singer” pointed out that she suffers from crippling anxiety when asked to perform at weddings and funerals.
Panic attacks when on stage are a well-known problem.
Your advice to The Wedding Singer is direct and effective.
However, should she actually wish to sing if she were freed from anxiety, she should speak with her doctor.
She may be a candidate for propranolol, a beta-blocker and can eliminate or greatly reduce the adrenaline discharge.
Many musicians, actors, and public speakers use propranolol.
— Laurie J Bleicher, MD, Anchorage, Alaska
Dear Dr. Bleicher: I have heard from dozens of people, recommending beta blockers as an effective antidote to stage fright.
I was responding mainly to this singer’s desire to stop bowing to the pressure to provide command performances, but I am grateful for your recommendation.
Dear Amy: I appreciated the thoughtful, intelligent, and restrained response that you gave “Resentful Husband,” who deeply resented the fact that his wife had chosen to be a stay-at-home mother, rather than further her career.
As a mother of three children who are now young adults, my own response contained words not fit for a family newspaper.
I felt the advice for them to get couples counseling was especially wise; perhaps the wife will realize through counseling that she deserves better than the self-absorbed, materialistic jerk who sees her as a commodity whose only value can be measured in dollar and cents, rather than as a human being who raised his children and kept the household running while he pursued his career.
He may also be rudely awakened to learn that in most divorce settlements, her contribution would entitle her to half of all the marital assets.
Dear RoseBette: I received a high volume of responses to this letter from a man who seemed to gauge his wife’s worth only on the lost income she had surrendered in choosing to raise their children and run the household.
This father seemed to feel trapped, because they’d had a child right out of college, followed by another. This seems to have derailed his vision of what his life would be like with two high-earning spouses.
I could imagine feeling that way, but the burden of adulthood is to accept and maximize what is, not mourn what might have been — and punish your partner.
His attitude toward his wife’s efforts was selfish, to say the least. Calling her “lazy” because she took low-paying or volunteer jobs while raising the children was a bridge too far. It enraged many readers, including a lot of working parents who expressed gratitude for their stay-at-home spouses.
It angered me, too. I composed my answer, and then went back and removed some of the saltier language.
Dear Amy: “Conflicted” wrote to you about a strange problem. Her father had the habit of giving his children “spending money” when they went away on vacation. Conflicted’s husband was offended at accepting this money.
Amy, thank you for understanding how important it is to accept this hard-working father’s occasional generosity, and to see it for what it is: an expression of love.
— A Fellow Generous Father
Dear Father: When I was around 9 years old, I went with my friend and her dad when they took her oldest sister to college. Just before we left her on campus, her dad pressed a small amount of money into her hand. “Honey, this is for … anything,” he said.
I’ve never forgotten it.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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