DEAR HARRIETTE: My children get mad at me because I’m old-school: I don’t care how old they are -- I don’t want them leaving home without putting on lotion. I can’t stand looking at ashy skin. It looks bad, but what’s worse is that your skin can crack if you don’t keep it moisturized. They hate it when I remind them. As long as they live under my roof, I want them to do the basic things needed to care for their skin. How can I get this point across without fussing all the time? It’s winter. It should be obvious to them. -- Dry Skin Dilemma
DEAR DRY SKIN DILEMMA: Some messages take forever to sink in. You should continue to remind them to moisturize their skin -- and to drink enough water, especially during this cold-weather season. You might want to get creative, too. Put a bottle of lotion or body cream in their room in a location that makes it very noticeable. Put a bottle near the sink in the bathroom as a reminder to lotion up before getting dressed.
Remind them with a smile on your face. Try not to be combative -- even if this is the millionth time you have told them to do it. Chances are, when they are grown and on their own, they will hear your voice in their head and tend to their skin, as they also remind their own children!
DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter is dating a boy I do not like. She and my wife say they love him. I have not told them that I disapprove. I don’t like the way he talks to her. And he is distracting her from her studies. She has worked so hard to do well in school, but ever since she started seeing this guy, her grades have been slipping. What can I say to get her to focus on her studies again? I’m worried she will ignore whatever I say. -- Desperate Dad
DEAR DESPERATE DAD: Talk to your wife first, and point out that your daughter’s grades are slipping. Let her know that you are concerned about how your daughter is spending her time. Acknowledge that you believe your wife likes this young man. Point out that you don’t want to be the bad guy, but you do want to sound the alarm before your daughter’s life veers off track. Ask your wife to support you in talking to your daughter about paying closer attention to her schoolwork.
I recommend that you focus on her studies rather than the young man. Condemning him may make your daughter cling to him more. Instead, encourage her to reserve enough time to do her work. Suggest that she seems to be socializing a bit too much, and her schoolwork is suffering as a result.
Ideally, your daughter needs to come to the realization herself that this young man is a distraction to her. Your best bet is to keep your comments targeted to her schoolwork. When she thinks about what has been occupying her time, she may realize that she has to redirect some of her time and energy to bringing her grades up.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)