Something Old, Something New

Dear Stephanie,

My mother is buying my wedding gown–and wants me to buy a second-hand wedding dress. I just don’t want to. I know it is practical but it feels less fun and less special. It is the most important and special day of my life and I want to wear something that reflects that.  I know it’s just a dress but how do I handle this?

Sincerely,

I want what I want


Dear I want,

Thanks for writing in, and congrats that you have found someone that you love and they love you,  and you want to spend your life with them!! It’s pretty amazing because not all people are so lucky.

So, a second-hand dress is not what you had in mind for “something old”, is it? ; ) I  can 100% relate to you and your feeling of wanting a brand new special wedding dress of your own. I will want the same thing one day when I get married. Now aside from being happy for you, my first reaction was, “Well, you can’t make your mom pay for something she doesn’t want to.” Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could get whom ever to buy whatever for us?! If you want the brand new dress of your dreams I have a few options that I think will help you decide on how you want to proceed.

  1. You could just buy your own damn dress. Problem solved. Then you can buy exactly what you want. It won’t matter what anyone else thinks about the price, new, used or otherwise. If she feels upset about that, say that you would rather she buy your veil, shoes, or lends you your “something borrowed.”
  2. Your mom is probably a very practical women being that she wants you to buy a second-hand dress. So, I am sure she can handle a practical conversation about money. Have a discussion with her letting her know that you would much prefer a new dress not second hand because it is your special day, but that you also understand she has a budget. You could suggest that if your new dream dress falls within the budget: great! If not, then you would like to pay the difference. That is a reasonable and fair compromise.
  3. Do some research. There are some amazing places out there where you can find a brand new designer dress for only a couple hundred dollars. Check out the The Bridal Garden. I am certain they will have the dress of your dreams at the price point your mother’s dream.
  4. Finally, consider getting a second-hand dress…. I know this option is exactly what you do not want to hear, but hear me out. You will only wear the dress once. One day and never again. Right? Also, while this pains me to even say as a person working in the  fashion industry, it is still true… Who cares what you wear? (Yes, you do. I know. But hear me out) It will not make or break your marriage. It’s just a really beautiful dress that will be fun to wear but will not guarantee the success of your marriage and future happiness. Or even how fun your actual wedding day will be. So save the money and put it toward your honeymoon where you can cultivate exciting memories that you can draw on when life gets a little hard. Because let’s face it.. It always does at one point or another.

So with that, I hope you find the option that works best for you. No matter what you choose you will be radiant. It is a state of mind more than anything. I wish you a life time of happiness, joy and health with the love of your life.

 With Love,

Stephanie

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Leaving the Nest

I received the below submission as comment on a previous post:

“I have a question! Next Fall my daughter is going away to a University. I’ve been preparing her for over a year now on how to live alone without a parent and what things to watch out for, yet I still have a lot of anxiety over her move and being without me. We will be 3 states apart and it is really hard for me to let go. What tips do you have on letting go and not freaking out when I say good-bye….. ”

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Dear Reader,

As you may, or may not know, I am not the expert on sending daughters off to college. So, I consulted the authority on this matter…my own mother. She has successfully sent 3 daughters off to college. I thought she might have some valuable insight, having lived it 3 times over.

If her insight isn’t what you needed to hear, I just have to say it was what I needed to hear this weekend. It gave me a boost for the week, I did not know I needed. Since our quick chat, I have felt continuously thankful that I have a mother that is so self-aware, wise, selfless and encouraging.  I know not so many people are as lucky as I am. However, dear reader, I think your daughter must be as lucky and me and my sisters have been.

My Mom expressed that she felt similar emotions to what you are feeling about the impending move and separation. That worrying about the “What if she can’t or won’t?!” is perfectly normal, but instead try to think about the “What if she can and will?!”. She said that positive outlook really made a big difference for her. She was able to be excited about our futures and be excited with us for the next step, instead of dwelling on something negative. Personally, I always feel the most excited and prepared when my parents are also excited for me. Their approval and belief in me gives me an extra boost of confidence when I might normally feel unsure.

From my perspective, I feel that it is human nature to fulfill the roles people assign to us. People who are labeled as”losers”, have been told over and over again they are a loser, they are lazy and are good for nothing. The same goes for people who are confident, successful and happy. They are built up by those around them. We start to believe and embody what the people around us think and say about us.  Since your daughter already has the tools needed to succeed, keep on encouraging her and reminding her of how great she will do on her own. Of course, there will be hard parts to college, but going in believing that she can handle it, that she is aware and that she will succeed will give her the upper hand in most situations.

In terms of letting go and how hard it can be,  my mother suggested, to be so thankful that you were able to raise a healthy young woman who can be on her own. That you can “let go”. There are many parents who wish that their child was capable of such an accomplishment. But on the day of the move, tears are inevitable! Do your best to keep it together, because it is not your daughter’s  responsibility to make you happy, but it is your responsibility to make sure she doesn’t feel guilty about pursuing her dreams.

All in all, you gave her the tools she needs, now believe in yourself that you succeeded in raising her right and share the joy and excitement that will come with the future.

With Love,

Stephanie

Breaking PROMises

Dear Stephanie,

My 16-year-old daughter was dumped at the last minute by her boyfriend before prom after cheating on her. She had the dress and everything. Her older sister’s good friend ended up stepping in to take her, while the ex-boyfriend went with the girl he cheated on my daughter with. Late in the summer, the boy started  trying to make amends and wants  to get back together. So does she now. We’ve resisted her spending time with him and said no. Her personality even changed to being sad a lot, angry, and darker, but she and her sisters all think he is ok now, is sorry, and deserves a second chance. What do you, being young, suggest?

Sincerely,

A Momma Bear

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Dear Momma Bear,

Thanks for writing in. I really appreciate you seeking my advice on this but honestly, I am not sure at all how to approach this as a parent. I very bluntly want to say your daughters are being naive. Which is only a by product of their age. (Assuming they are all close in age.) Thank goodness they have a mom who is seeing that boy for the untrustworthy person he is.

If that were my sister I would hope that she would stay far far away from him. I’m a firm believer in forgiveness, but not everyone in every scenario deserves a second chance. Especially, in matters of the heart. Cheating, lying and public embarrassment are absolute deal breakers for me. Remind your daughters to maintain their high standards and  that even if he is truly sorry he does not deserve a second chance because what he did was too egregious. In my experience, a guy like him is only sorry and want’s to win your daughter back, because he thinks that’s what he is supposed to do. It’s a game for him.

As I said before, I don’t know what to suggest to you as for parenting advice but I don’t think you should force them apart, more than you have. Keep the boundaries that you set, but I think more than that will only push your daughter farther from you and the support of her family and into the arms of that fool. Even if they are “forbidden” to see each other, they will find a way through lying and sneaking around to be together. Which is the last thing you and your daughter needs.

In the meantime, keep talking to your daughters about how no one should settle for someone who hurts them in such a way. In these talks, be sure to make it clear that if and when it all goes south there will never be an “I told you so”, just a shoulder to cry on. It does seem like they need to learn the hard way, but hopefully they will just take your word for it.

With Love,

Stephanie

 

Room(mate) for Improvement

Dear Stephanie,

I live in a suite of 6 girls total and my roommate is great. But one of the other girls who lives in the suite is particularly disgusting with her bathroom habits. She also happens to come a much different culture and religion than me. I don’t know a lot about her or her culture. I want to approach her about her unsanitary habits but I don’t know how to go about it without being insensitive, because what if these restroom habits are part of her religion? How should I talk to her without causing a problem?

Sincerely,

A Repulsed Roommate


Dear Replused,

My gut reaction here is she is probably just a gross person and it doesn’t have anything to do with her religion. Cleanliness is next to godliness after all! But seriously, I did some research on the 3 major religions over the past few days and followers of these religions  are all supposed to be VERY clean. However, to play it safe do some research on her culture, religion and customs to be sure yourself. Learning about her customs may help you decide on how you should approach her.

Regardless, of what you learn, gross is gross and you will still need to talk to her. I do think she has no clue she is being unsanitary. She think’s what she is doing is totally ok. So you can’t be mad at her for that, but you have to try and teach her, for your own health and sanity. Approach her privately, not with the 4 other girls in your suite around, and be as non-judgmental as possible. While embarrassment is an effective way to get someone to change their habits, it is also a good way to ruin a happy and healthy relationship in the future. You talking to her one on one, I think, will provide enough embarrassment to get her to change her behavior, but not so much that she would be insulted. She will be glad and thankful that it was not in front of a crowd.

If anyone has a different idea or approach to dealing with a gross roommate please leave a comment below! I would love to hear your input.

With Love,

Stephanie

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Oh, Brother!

Dear Stephanie,

My brother is 22 and, although he certainly could be doing worse, he has always been the cause of much family contention and isn’t moving in the direction he could/should be.

He recently graduated college and continued right into his MBA at the same school, with no work experience or plan of what he wants, and did not want to answer any questions my family had or take any advice on maybe waiting and getting work experience in the field he thinks he wants to work in first. Leading up to graduation, he did not put much effort into recruiting for jobs he wanted. Once he saw he wasn’t getting any job offers, he just decided to keep going to school. I’m not sure if he really thinks this will help him get a job, seeing as it was really a lack of effort on his part that resulted in him staying in school.

Grad school is not a plan he had or something he ever expressed interest in before, and he did not have a reason (that he told us, at least) for continuing school. From our experience and what many successful people have done, we all agreed it would be better to wait and perhaps have more of a plan before paying for a graduate degree. He didn’t listen to what anyone said and just signed up for the program. He is also at a temp job but not treating it like an opportunity for full-time employment.

He is living with my parents now, which in itself is not a problem, but he has never gotten along with the family very well and doesn’t help around the house, interact with my parents, or even answer their simple questions most of the time. I know it is hard on them because they want to help him out any way they can and he barely speaks to them. Even if they aren’t probing or trying to offer advice, he is unresponsive and doesn’t want to be around them.

We joke about it as a family, but I want to be able to help him out. What can I do to get him to listen, or at least want to have a semi-serious conversation? Do I leave it alone and hope he’s just a (very) late bloomer?

Sincerely,

Trying to Help a Brother Out


Dear Trying,

Thanks for writing in. To be quite frank, it sounds like your brother is self-centered and needs to grow up. He’s taking your family’s interest and your parent’s generosity for granted. It must be really frustrating when your whole family is trying to help him but all your getting is the reaction from him that you mention above. However, on the other hand a MBA is never a bad choice; even if he is going about it in an unconventional way and he is unsure of what he wants after he gets his degree. A business degree will always be applicable in any field he will eventually pursue and future employers will take notice. So, I think maybe, cut him a little slack in that area. Just because it is not the exact way you or other people would do it, does not mean it isn’t the right choice for him.

If you still want to have a serious conversation with him about his education, I would approach from the angle of helping him discover what he wants to do after school. I don’t doubt you that he didn’t put the effort into finding a job, but maybe he did not put an effort in because he has not found something that excites him and motivates him. Which, if I am being honest, IS an immature outlook, but an outlook none the less, and one that many many people subscribe to. I would try to have a low pressure, brain storming type conversation about what he likes and wants to do in life. He probably needs some inspiration, and as his sibling, who is better to help him with that? Maybe, it will help you see him in a new light too.

However, the way he is treating your family is unacceptable at his age. Sounds like he needs a real heart to heart (knock upside the head) to be reminded how lucky he is that he can live at home without contributing to the household while pursuing further education and still be a rude person and family member. If I were you, I would remind him constantly how good he has it and that he owes your parents more than a thank you. Obviously, I am no parent but I would also suggest to my own parents to give him a taste of reality. Leave him alone and don’t ask questions but since he has a job, he can pay some rent. He can cook his own meals.  He can buy his own food and he can do his own laundry… Or whatever other benefits he’s getting from living at home. This push in to a faux deep end might accelerate his delayed blooming process and help him and realize that your family has been more just roommates at a boarding house to him.

All in all, I think you should keep talking to and encouraging your brother to be a better person, family member, student and future employee. It could be like talking to a wall for years, but the optimist in me hopes one day he will get it.

With Love,

Stephanie

If anyone else has any other suggestions or a different approach, please leave a comment below.

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Butting In or Butting Out

Would you look at this! A clearly great mom, who is trying to be the best mom is looking for some advice from me, of all people.

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“I’m so glad I found your blog! I’m actually the mom of 20s somethings and really need advice on how and when they may want advice from me! I know wait ‘til they ask, but what if I think it’s necessary and nobody asked? Thanks in advance for your perspective.”

Hi There,

I am so glad you have found my blog too! Thanks for your question, I hope I can be of help.

That being said, I think you are already on the right track. I think all moms want what is best for their children and you are no exception! So, when it comes to giving advice that was not asked for, it means that you are concerned for them or you think you know what is best for them. I am sure in most cases you do know what is best, since you have lived a fuller and longer life than your child. However, your life is, has, and will continue to be different from you child’s. So not every answer that you have found true for your life will be true for them.

In those moments, maybe take a second to think about your apprehension and why you want to speak up and offer advice. Is it because your child is choosing something that is currently socially acceptable, normal even healthy, but was something that would have be considered unacceptable in your youth? Is their decision hurting themselves or other people? Do you think they will be more or less unhappy? Is it immoral and unethical? (Fairly subjective depending on what you believe in.)

After asking yourself those questions, and you still feel the need to offer advice, that they are unsafe or metaphorically walking into the lion’s den, then go ahead butt in and offer advice. I cannot promise you that you will not butt heads, but your words will not fall on deaf ears. They will hear you, even if they do not want to. I am sure they will also be secretly thankful for the input.

Trust me on this one. My own lovely mother, would offer advice (butt in) when necessary, even if it wasn’t sought out. Sure, I was VERY annoyed, but I heard it and I may have even followed it after I chewed on her words a little longer. It was her suggestion, but my choice.

Which leads to my last piece of advice, trust yourself that you raised your 20s somethings to be capable adults, who will make the best decisions for their lives. Of course, they might stumble and fall but that is how they will learn what is true for them and their lives.

I hope that was helpful and offers some insight on how a 20s something might feel. If anyone else has a further suggestions, please let me and this momma know in the comments below.

With Love,

Stephanie

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