DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is going away to college in a few weeks. We are doing everything we know to get him ready. There are tons of little things to check off the list. What I didn't expect was for my friends and anybody else within earshot to tell me over and over again how hard it is going to be when he leaves. I know that! We are close. But it is not helpful to be reminded of how sad I will be.
My friends go on and on about how different my life is going to be, how I will not know how to fill time, how I have to figure out things differently -- and that I should have already started. Their points may be valid, but they are not helpful. How can I get people to stop? -- Broken Record
DEAR BROKEN RECORD: Like it or not, this commentary will likely last well after your son is off at school. So you should attempt to nip it in the bud now. When they start, interrupt them and say, “Thank you for your input. Can we table it for now?” Or “I appreciate your insight on this. I’ve got all the advice I can manage right now.” Or simply change the subject. You can be abrupt about it.
After your son is gone, consider choosing one or two confidants with whom you can talk and “let your hair down.” It will be helpful to have someone who will listen; someone who will not judge or try to fix anything, and will just be a good friend. That’s what those other people are trying to do, by the way. Unfortunately, people don’t always read the moment to notice if their comments are landing well. They just spout whatever is on their mind. Find someone who will be there for you in ways that you appreciate. And take your time. Yes, this is an emotional rite of passage. But the uncomfortable state doesn’t last forever.