DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a set of 12-year-old twin daughters. They are both sweet, smart, funny girls, but they are different in a lot of ways. One of them is confident and social and speaks her mind constantly. She is also considerate of other people’s feelings while maintaining her leadership skills. My other daughter is not so outgoing. She is shy, spends a lot of time by herself and is more of a follower. She has an amazing attention to detail and is very dependable when I need her for something. I try to accentuate my daughters' differences but also treat them the same.
As they are approaching high school soon, I would like my daughter who is shy to become more social. How do I get her to come out of her shell without pushing her too far? -- Mother of Twins, Minneapolis
DEAR MOTHER OF TWINS: Start by accepting your daughters for who they are -- as they are. Your introverted daughter may remain quiet and somewhat withdrawn. That is OK for her. Do not push her. Instead, learn what her interests are, and point her in those directions. If she is into music, encourage her to play an instrument or take singing lessons. If she likes a sport, suggest that she join a team. Whatever she fancies, you should encourage. Chances are, she will blossom naturally when she is in an environment that feels safe and stimulating to her.
As far as your outgoing daughter, pay attention to her as well. Check to see if she is making smart choices in terms of friends and social activities. Often, the gregarious ones intersect with others who do not always share your family's values or views. Be sure that both daughters learn how to be true to themselves.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My partner and I have recently decided that we want to move. We are so excited about this new chapter in our lives.
One thing that has come up quite frequently in our discussion is where we will send our children to school. We have found a great county just outside of New York City that has two towns we love. The first town is my favorite and has the best school district, but not a great house selection. The other town has a house we both absolutely love, but the school district is not great.
I have been going back and forth with my partner, discussing the importance of education and home life, and which of those has a higher ranking when it comes to the outcome of children. Do you have any opinion or insight on this? -- Weighing My Family’s Options, Westchester, New York
DEAR WEIGHING MY FAMILY’S OPTIONS: Put education first. Many families move specifically so that their children can have access to quality education. Some even rent homes in good school districts and move after the children have completed high school. Others buy and then sell and upgrade to a better home after the children are gone.
(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.)