DEAR HARRIETTE: My son has been playing with Legos since he was about 5. He’s a teenager now, but this is still his gift of choice. He told me and my mother that what he wants more than anything for his birthday are the latest Lego kits that are out. Part of me wants to expand his vision. He is about to be of the age to be interested in girls and in being more social. I fear that there won’t be too many girls who will want to build Legos with him. Should I start weaning him off Legos and give him a gift that will point him to more social activities, like dance lessons or something? I don’t know what to do. -- Growing Up, Bronx, New York
DEAR GROWING UP: Don’t rush your son’s personal development. He has plenty of time to begin figuring out social dynamics with girls. Further, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that some girls like Legos as well. If I were you, I would get him the Legos that he has requested. You could supplement the gift with something more socially minded.
Talk to your son about what he might like to explore. If you think he would be into dance lessons, then go for it. If he will think that you are meddling in his life, that idea will backfire. Listen to him and learn how he might like to expand his horizons.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister’s husband died a few years ago, and she is still grieving deeply. I try to connect with her and let her know that I care about her and want to be there for her, but nothing seems to be working. She works, but she is really sad. When she comes home from work, she sits around and drinks. When I go to visit her, I can tell that she has not eaten much. She’s usually in a daze. I suggested that she go to therapy, but she doesn’t want to do that yet. I suppose she is functioning because she does go to work every day, but this isn’t living. What can I do to help her? -- Grieving Sis, Los Angeles
DEAR GRIEVING SIS: You cannot force your sister to get help, even though therapy would be good for her. You might suggest a grief counselor, which is specific to her problem. She may be willing to consider that.
Otherwise, continue to visit your sister. Don’t tell her it will get better soon, because you don’t know that it will. And it won’t make her feel happier, either. It will likely make her think you are uncaring and that you don’t understand her pain. Instead, spend time with her. Bring her food when you come. Offer to take her to the movies or shopping or anything that will get her to think about the present rather than remaining burdened by the loss that is unbearable for her to remember. Be patient and loving. Your support does matter to her.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)