DEAR HARRIETTE: I have picked up the hobby of stand-up paddle boarding. I love waking up to watch the sunrise and get out on the water. My stepfather, in an attempt to bond with me, surprised me by saying he has purchased a paddleboard for himself. This is a big investment, and the worst part is that I use paddle boarding as my alone time -- not a time to talk about how useful accounting is in life.
How can I politely tell my stepfather that I can give him a lesson, but from then on, he’s on his own? -- Paddling Away, Ocean City, Maryland
DEAR PADDLING AWAY: You need to be honest and gentle with your stepfather. You must have been talking about your new hobby to the point that he considered it could be a way to connect with you. Now you have to manage that sharing of information.
It would be very kind of you to teach your stepfather how to paddle board. During your lessons, you can slip in comments about the serenity of the experience, what you like to do most when you are balancing on the water and how important it is to you to experience silence during this time of peace and quiet. Then watch to see how well your stepfather can fall into your pacing. If it works comfortably, you might tell him that you would like to share the experience with him on occasion, but mainly this is your meditation time.