DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been friends with a female corporate executive for some years now. She is lovely and smart, and our relationship is always warm. I saw her after not seeing her for about six months, and it was obvious to me that she had had plastic surgery. I’m sorry, but she looked crazy to me. Yes, she is getting older and a bit overweight, but what she did to her face makes her look totally fake.
I feel like I should say something to her. I guess she is trying to keep up with the young people in her world, but it is not working. I think it would be so much better if she just accepted herself as she is. Should I say something to her? -- Too Much Plastic Surgery
DEAR TOO MUCH PLASTIC SURGERY: This is a time when I recommend that you keep your comments to yourself. Your friend has made choices that you may not have made, but they are made. For you to tell her you think she made a bad decision about something that is largely irreversible is not helpful. Clearly, your friend was feeling the urge to modernize herself or at least to make herself seem younger. Occasionally, plastic surgery does that effectively. Often, the job is too glaringly different from where you started.
That is not your problem. Your challenge is to be a friend to her by accepting her as she is. If she ever brings up her plastic surgery, you can tell her, gently, that you choose not to refresh in that way. If she asks more, you can give her your thoughts in general about the pros and cons of plastic surgery, but steer clear of what she has done until and unless she asks you directly.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My father used to say, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” I tell it to my kids, but they don’t have a clue. I feel like my wife and I are spoiling our kids too much by letting them have a comfortable life. I struggled for every dollar, and it worked out for me -- when it was time for me to work as an adult, I knew I had to hustle. I worry that my kids have it too easy. They don’t understand what it means for the lights to go out because their parents didn’t have money to pay the electric bill. I need to do something to get them to appreciate what they have. Any ideas? -- Wake Up My Kids
DEAR WAKE UP MY KIDS: Privilege can trick young people into believing that they will always enjoy the fruits of their parents’ labor and influence. I have talked to a number of wealthy parents who have shared their down-to-earth stories. One celebrity mom told me that her well-to-do father told her that while she lives in his house, it is his. She can enjoy the fruits of his labor for as long as HE decides, not her. This motivated her to make her own money and figure out her life as an independent person.
Can you encourage your kids to step into responsibility? Stay in conversation with them so that they can imagine what it means to be independent and what they can do to get there. Changing the narrative from your children asking for money to them asking about how to invest what they have and, in other ways, thinking about how to plan for the future will be a tremendous win!
(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.)