Q: My wife and I have been married 20 years and have three children, ages 10 to 17. Our oldest is a senior in high school. Her best friend, “Maya,” is a friend of the family we have known for 10 years. Maya’s parents have been divorced for as long as we’ve known her. She lives with her single mom. Her dad moved out of state.
Maya spends a lot of time with us on weekends, and we have all embraced her as another family member. Recently, Maya pulled me aside and asked if I could be a father figure in her life. I was honored and immediately agreed. Now when she comes over she calls me “Dad” and even says “I love you.” I say it back.
Last week, my wife mentioned that our younger two children have noticed the bond between me and Maya and are upset about it. How can I be there for Maya through these tough teen years without alienating my own younger kids? — Family Guy in the Midwest
A: Consider having a talk with your younger children and explaining to them that the more love there is in this world, the better our world will be. Explain that Maya has no father in her life, and that any affection you express for her does not lessen the love you feel for them, and they will always be “No. 1” in your heart.
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This does not, however, mean that you cannot have love for Maya, too, and say it when you think she needs to hear it. If you haven’t already been doing it, make special time for your younger children that does not include Maya. If you do, perhaps it will help them to feel less threatened.
Q: Allow me to offer a word of encouragement to young boys who are short in stature: All your life, you will hear thoughtless remarks about your height. “He’s short. That’s so sad. It will hold him back in life. He'll have trouble with girls,” and so on. Don’t listen to a word of it!
I am now a senior citizen. Not once has being short held me back from anything I wanted in life — relationships, money, career, friends and respect. Other people may have stereotypes, but do not let them control your goals and dreams. You can have whatever you want in life, so go for it! — Mike in California
A: There is no height requirement for success. As I write this I am thinking of Prince, Elton John, Michael J. Fox, Kevin Hart, Danny DeVito and every jockey who races for the Triple Crown. (My lawyer is also short in stature, but I measure him only from the eyebrows up.)
Q: I’m 18 and have never had a boyfriend. I really, really like a boy from church, but I don’t know how to approach him. He has a job and is in his second year of college.
We’re good friends, but he’s so busy with work and school that I never see him, not even on Sundays. It’s upsetting. I’d really like to be more than friends. What should I do? — Crushing in Indiana
A: Because of the schedule he is on, I don’t think you have much choice other than to wait until his classes end and he’s on holiday or summer break. In the meantime, do not put your life on hold. Stay busy with friends and other activities, and who knows? You may meet somebody else who’s also interesting.
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