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Monday, February 28, 2011

Advice on maintaining friendships

Original email to me:
Dear Mama Em,
It really pisses me off that some people can make such stupid choices, like say for example, they have no money and are always complaining about being behind on bills and having to borrow money from family, but then when they DO come into some money, instead of paying people back or catching up on bills, they piss it away on stupid crap like video games and eating fancy dinners. How do I keep from getting pissed at these people and stay friends with them? Or is it a lost cause?

My response:
Dear Pissed Off,
You have to first determine whether or not there are enough good points that make you WANT to be friends with this person or if EVERYTHING they do pisses you off. I have had this conversation many times over the years with several different people. It always seems to start off with "I don't know WHY I stay friends with ______..." I always suggest that you look at the pros and cons. Do you have fun with this person? Do you spend nice, quality time together? Is it just the simple fact of how they make poor choices that makes you angry? And do those choices affect you negatively in some way? Because at the end of the day, it's not your life to live, it's theirs. And if they choose to continuously make poor choices, that's their own business, as long as those choices don't negatively affect you. In which case, I'd say run for the hills. No REAL friend would purposefully make decisions to hurt a friend. If you can figuratively take the piece of their personality that makes you so bothered out of the equation, is there enough of a friendship left to make it worth while to keep? I know a lot of people whom I think regularly make poor choices, especially in the type of situation that you're talking about. They're always complaining about things, but they take no action to fix what they think is wrong. I have people that I have told througout the years "You know what, if you're not going to do anything to try to solve your problems, then I don't want to hear about it anymore. If you have no ambition to fix what's wrong, then you have no right to openly complain about it! If you don't want advice, don't ask for it. If you do ask for it, take it." I'm sure you've heard the old saying "You can't help those who won't help themselves" - and it rings true! So, what I'm getting at is, if you cherish the friendship and just get angry at the poor financial choices, you're going to have to find a way to ignore those choices and convince yourself that it's not your business. If you have someone in your life who is constantly complaining to you about something or asking you for advice on the same thing over and over again but they never take the advice or try to better their situation, you're going to have to tell them that if they aren't going to try to fix things, you don't want to hear about it anymore. That's a make-it-or-break-it conversation for a friendship, but a real friend will understand what you're saying and make a change. So good luck, and all the best to you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Advice for Moms (and Dads) to be

I was recently asked by a mom-to-be, what one piece of advice I would give first timers. I laughed and said I had a lot more than just one idea. First, I told her not to listen to everyone elses' advice. Every parent is different and every kid is different, so there's no right or wrong way to do any one thing. Then I told her that I had a lot of advice on poop situations, which made her laugh. Here's a few of the things I told her:

As soon as your baby can stand up on her own in the crib, pull the crib away from the wall and put a tarp under it. This will make for easy clean up the day she decides to pull her poop out of her diaper.

As you get closer to your due date, start sitting on puppy pads. Put them everywhere you sit. In the car, on the couch, under your sheets on your bed. This way if your water breaks, you don't have so much cleanup and you won't be worrying about ruining anything!

Keep a slotted spoon under the sink in the bathroom. One day, your baby WILL poop in the tub. This is the easiest way to clean it out. I can't take credit for this one. This wisdom came from a good friend of mine, whom I called and whined to when it happened to me with my daughter!

If you wind up feeding your baby formula, use the powder. It is so much easier to work with than the liquid, and it stains less. When you go to bed for the night, put the amount of powder you use into a bottle and have it ready in the baby's room. Then take a bottle of water to bed with you. Just toss it in the bed and make sure it's touching your skin while you sleep. When baby wakes up to eat, your bottle of water will be body-tempurature! No stumbling to the kitchen, turning all the lights on, trying to quietly warm up a bottle... just go pour the amount you need into the bottle you already put powder in earlier. I learned this trick with my first child, and it saved me from having to listen to my cat cry for food since he knew I was up, and waking up my husband who had to work in the morning! Now I do it with baby #2 so that I don't wake up the whole house!

Make an agreement with your partner that all decisions are made between the two of you without any outside interference. When my daughter was born, I was barely into the recovery room when a nurse came in and asked me what kind of formula I would prefer they give her, since she needed extra food to help clear up Jaundice. I looked at my mom, who said "Enfamil". So I told the nurse I'd take Enfamil. My mother in law was also in the room, and instantly was biting her hand to keep from talking. I said "What?" and was told "I gave MY kids Similac. That's why MY kids are never sick." Every part of me wanted to scream BULLSHIT because her kids are sick all the damn time... but that's a whole other story. This very first disagreement sparked what I call the "War of the Mothers Advice" - and then became a whole huge dramatic issue over every little thing for the first three months of my daughter's life. My mom was/is really good about not pushing advice on me, but freely gives it when I ask for it, and everything I did based on her advice was wrong to my mother in law. In my case, we wrote my MIL off and it's been the best decision we ever made, but my MIL is a PSYCHO BITCH so this is not the right decision for everyone, LOL. My best advice to avoid this war, is not to ask either mother. Remember also, that when they were raising their kids, things were much different! Ask a friend who recently had a baby or has young children. She'll know what's up in today's world and then you don't have the moms at each other's throats. At least not over who's winning in the baby advice war.

Stay tuned, I have emails pouring in already for more advice, so I'll be writing again soon!