Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Dresser Comes With Strings Attached

DEAR HARRIETTE: My stepfather recently contacted me about an extra dresser that is in my parent's home. He told me that I could have it, seeing as no one else wants it and there is no space for it in the home. I was happy to have a project and made it clear that I planned on painting it and upcycling the piece. The day before I picked up the dresser, my stepfather called me, strongly suggesting that I stain the wood instead of my plan. I don't want furniture with strings attached. Should I just leave this dresser? -- Don't Tell Me What to Do, Detroit

DEAR DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO: Take a deep breath and relax. Absolutely do accept the dresser, and thank your stepfather for thinking of you. Also thank him for sharing his advice for how to upcycle the dresser. Tell him you will take his ideas into consideration as you make your plan.

Your stepfather likely was thinking about how best to support you and came up with a plan that he thought would make the dresser more appealing and potentially more valuable. Men are solution-oriented, and often the way that they show their love is to give advice. Yes, it can often come across as critical and bossy. If you are able to look beyond what feels like controlling behavior and remember that your stepfather is trying to help you, it will be easier to experience gratitude, and you will be more comfortable deciding what to do with the furniture and letting him know your decision. He is not the enemy.

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