On looking to the next big thing, instead of staying put:
I used to be restless, especially with travel and jobs. Then I realized two things: that I wouldn't be able to have the long-term things I really wanted with this lifestyle - a partner, a family, a stable place to raise my family; and that this wanderlust was really the easy way out.
While some think the transition to foreign places must be incredibly hard, the challenges come down to learning how to ask where the bathroom is and how to call a cab. Every day brings dramatic successes because you start practically from zero. That gives a lot of positive feelings of accomplishment but, really, I was not achieving much.
I realized the real challenges were the things I'd dismissed as "boring" or "easy." I still want to travel and live overseas, but now I plan it within the context of my family, and I think hard about what I want to get out of it, rather than follow the blind path away from whatever I want to avoid.
On accepting gifts from an abusive parent:
I'm surprised more people don't employ the tool I call the "junk money" fund. This is an account where you put any money you receive that's questionable, unexpected, or unwanted. You don't spend this money until you yourself have a questionable, unwanted, or unexpected cost.
No one can foretell the future. This child of an abuser may find him/herself having to pay for the parent's care. How fitting if the junk money were available. Using the parent's own money to support him would free the child from the resentment such support would otherwise be likely to cause.
On 18-year-olds and unsupervised camping trips:
There's nothing they can do camping that they can't do anytime, anywhere.
When my kids went on their senior trips, my wife was telling them all the rules. Their eyes were in a blank stare, like she was from a Peanuts cartoon . . . wah wahwah wah wah.
I walked up, looked my son in the eye, and said, "No births, no deaths, no police, have a great time!" He understood that.
Admittedly it was more difficult to say it to my daughter, but I did it.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@
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