My boyfriend's daughter has been acting out recently . After my boyfriend spoke to her, she admitted she feels alone because she does not have a mother . Her mother has been removed from the family for many years and my boyfriend's daughter is legally protected from her . Now that I am her father's partner, I would like to bond with her and help her have an older female figure in her life . I do not want to overstep my boundaries , but I want her to know that the girly experience that she cannot have with her mother , she can have with me . how do I broach this topic ? I do not want to seem insensitive or over eager , but I want her to know she can rely on me .
Dear Treading Lightly ,
First , evaluate your relationship with your boyfriend . Do you feel this going to be a long-lasting union ? If not, you probably don't want to form too close a bond with his daughter, only to end it some time soon and hurt her .
Next , get your boyfriend 's blessing to strike up a closer relationship with his daughter . You definitely want and also need his agreement that this is a good idea . If all is a go, start slowly and gently to initiate experiences that you can share with this young lady . The range of activities you can consider is broad .
Ask her what she would like to do . "Girly" activities range from going to the nail salon to going shopping. Depending on her age, she might like to create arts and crafts with you or participate in sports . How about watching chick flicks together with a bowl of popcorn, or even just sitting around talking ? Find out what interests her, with the object of getting to know her better and forging a bond . Also let her know you would like to be a friend and you will be there for her if ever she needs one.
I belong to a strict yacht and country club where there are many rules . Although the rules are not clearly stated , they are meant to be universally known .
One of the most awkward rules to explain to my guests is that there is a no-texting rule when one is at the club. I need to maintain a good reputation but with my teenage children and their guests, I am not always heard . I do not want to have to reprimand others' children , but I feel so embarrassed when I look over to see teenagers eating and staring at their laps . What should I do ?
Dear Club Rules ,
When in Rome, right ? Prep your guests well in advance of arriving at the club . Inform them about proper attire and behavior, as required by club rules
As far as the cellphones go, if one of the teen guests breaks the ban on texting, after being told the regulations, ask them if you may hold their cell for them for the duration of their visit . This will force them to interact with each other and allow you to follow the protocol of the club . I am sure you would only have to do that once to get the message across.
Dear Maxy ,
Why do some people insist on arriving late for family dinners ? My husband and I are great-grandparents with the only home large enough to set up and cook and I set the time that seems most convenient for our family members .
When there is a football game in the evening, I set the time for noon . When there is early morning rain, I set time for late afternoon . When asked if we can set a specific hour, I always agree . On Memorial Day I told everyone to be here at 1 p.m. Ten people were here waiting , and the last two came in 45 minutes later.
We didn't sit down to eat until after 2 . This is awkward for everone, but especially the young children, who are hungry, seniors who haven't eaten since early morning, and one family member who is diabetic and needs to time her insulin .
Why is it no longer polite to be punctual ?
Dear Late ,
It is still polite to be punctual, but some folks are simply inconsiderate . If there is only one couple that does this regularly, feel free to tell them that the festivities start an hour earlier than you tell everyone else . Otherwise, here's how to treat chronically late family members : Set the time and when that time arrives, sit down and start eating . Those who show up late can be told to find leftovers in the kitchen or join you for dessert . They will either accommodate themselves or make a greater effort to show up on time at the next family event . Either way, the rest of you should not be held hostage to their bad manners .
Dear Maxy ,
My wife and I are lucky to live near the friendliest, most helpful neighbors we could ask for . They are a middle-aged European couple who moved to the states two years ago .
Here's the problem . They have a swimming pool in their backyard, and when they use it , they do not wear swimsuits . I assume they are just doing what's normal in their native country .
When I am outside, I simply try to look the other way and ignore them . However when they see me or my wife , they almost always call out to say hello and to start a conversation. My wife is not bothered by it , and will go over and talk to them .
However, I'm not so comfortable . Generally, I wave and go back into the house until they are out of the pool.
My wife says I am overreacting , but I don't think I should feel uncomfortable in my own back yard .
My wife does not want to put up a fence, as she thinks it would be unsightly and unwelcoming . Can you help ?
Neighbors of Lord and Lady Godiva
Dear Neighbors ,
You cannot stop the folks next door from sunbathing nude unless their are restrictions in your town . Some European countries are indeed more liberal about nudity. However, you should definitely not have to feel reluctant to use your own yard when the neighbors are out .
The solution, truly, is a fence ( there are some very attractive designs out there these days) or perhaps some type of shrubbery that would allow each of you to have more privacy . There is nothing unwelcoming or unsightly about nice trees, bushes and plants. Your neighbors will get the benefit of them too.
I think your wife will understand your discomfort if your upbringing was more conservative. Apparently, she has adapted very well; perhaps she even envies your neighbors' freedom.