Q: My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost eight months. We love each other and talk often about marriage, family, etc.
The other night, just for fun, I looked online at rings and showed my mom a few I really loved. She quickly dismissed all of them and started telling me how I need a big stone and that it needs to be expensive. Then she went online and looked herself and was telling me which ones I should be interested in. Mom offered to take me to a jeweler’s to find the “perfect” ring.
She has always been a helicopter parent, but now, as my boyfriend and I are becoming more serious, she’s going into warp drive. How can I tell her gently to butt out? Also, what’s your advice on the ring situation? — Daughter of a Helicopter Mom
A: You and your mother are both jumping the gun. “Talking often of marriage, family, etc.” is not an engagement. If you allow your mother to involve herself in this, I predict you will never get engaged because your boyfriend, if he’s smart, will run for the hills. When and if you do decide to tie the knot, the two of you should go to a jeweler together and select something he can afford and you will enjoy wearing. Period.
Q: I’m a young woman in my 20s. I have been blessed with a loving family, lots of opportunities and people who care about me. My problem is, I don’t feel worthy of any of it.
A lot of the time when I’m around people, I feel like I’m on the outside looking in — like an intruder. When I join groups and listen, I feel like I’m eavesdropping. When I try to pitch in, I feel like I’m annoying everyone. I try to be like people who other people like, but I feel I fall far short of the mark.
I wish I could change and be less irritating and more interesting, but I don’t know how to change my personality, or even if I could. I’m just tired of not feeling worthy enough. I know this feeling isn’t rational, but it’s here to stay, apparently. What should I do? — Unworthy
A: There is nothing so defeating to social success than low self-esteem — feeling undeserving and not good enough. The first thing you should do is stop trying to change yourself to please others because it doesn’t work. Then try to pinpoint where these feelings of unworthiness originated. If you can’t manage it on your own — many people can’t — make an appointment to discuss it with a licensed mental health professional. You deserve to feel good about yourself and what you contribute.
Q: Years ago, it was considered improper to send a holiday card to a friend or family member who experienced the loss of a child or spouse during the year.
What is correct today? And what about an invitation to a party? — Careful in California
A: If there was a “rule” that people who have suffered a loss should not receive a holiday card, I have never heard of it. One would think that those who are grieving would appreciate knowing they were being remembered.
As to inviting the person to a party — not everyone grieves in the same way or for the same length of time. Unless religious custom prevents it, if you think the friend or relative might enjoy the event, by all means extend an invitation. The invitee can always refuse if it’s too soon.