DEAR HARRIETTE: From time to time, I have these nightmares about my fiance, of something happening to him or of him doing something to break my heart. These dreams are impacting my reality. Either I wake up crying, not wanting to get out of bed, or I wake up in a rage, upset with him over something that didn’t happen. I’m finding it hard to separate what is real and what is a dream. I feel like my subconscious is either trying to tell me that this man isn’t right for me or I just love him too much and too hard. It’s got me scared for marriage. How can I deal with these dreams interfering with my reality? — Deep Sleeper
DEAR DEEP SLEEPER: Talk to your fiance. Tell him about your dreams. Ask if he is nervous at all about getting married. This could just be jitters — or it could be more. Talk it through. If the dreams do not subside, consider going to a counselor to work through your concerns. (c) DREAMLEAPERS
Huh. I wish I could ask the letter writer to describe her fiance in one word or term. But let’s just come up with a pretend word. Suppose she’d say, “In one word? He lives a leisurely lifestyle, so I guess I’d call him leisurely.”
That works. Her dreams are telling her that her own leisurely side, which is an aspect of her subconscious mind, is causing problems in her life. Whenever she has one of these nightmares, she might have sabotaged her success somehow on the prior day by being too leisurely.
Or suppose she’d say, “In one word or term? My fiance is incredibly abrupt and straightforward. He lacks tact.”
That also works. Then, her dreams are telling her that her own straightforward, tactless side, an aspect of her subconscious mind, is causing problems in her life. The prior day, she might have been too abrupt with someone, and it might have caused problems in her life.
The subconscious mind does what it can to get people’s attention, but I feel sad that this letter writer’s convinced that this is a sign she shouldn’t be with her intended.
Think of someone you dream of frequently. Does this person manifest in your dreams as he/she does in waking life? How would you describe the person in one word or term? The next time you dream of them, think back to the previous day to see what was going on then.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like my adult kids are losing respect for me. When your kids are young, they look up to you for everything and trust in you. My kids are all of college age and older. They are leaving the nest and not looking back. They throw their childhood bad memories at me, saying that I was manipulative and a liar. But as parents, we know what it’s like when your kids throw a tantrum, or when they get into trouble as a teenager and just won’t listen. I did what I needed to do to raise smart, strong kids, and I feel like I succeeded. All I want now is to enjoy a mature adult relationship with my kids, but they want nothing to do with me. I feel like I gave my life to them, and now I am hated and alone. Was I a bad mother? — Miss My Kids
DEAR MISS MY KIDS: I’m so sorry that you are experiencing this break with your adult children. It sounds incredibly painful. To get past it, you may have to create space to let your children speak freely about whatever is bothering them. Clearly something happened that left a negative impression on your children. Whatever your intentions were, at this moment, your parenting style has left your children with a bad taste in their mouths.
Invite them, individually or together, to talk to you. Tell them that you hear them saying that you hurt them, and you want to know more. Promise that you will listen. Do your best to hear what they have to say. Do not make excuses as they talk. Be quiet. If you hear something that sounds legitimately off about your behavior, apologize. When it’s your time to talk, admit that you know you weren’t a perfect mom, but you did your best to give them the tools to succeed. Tell them that you want to cultivate a relationship with them. Ask if you can start fresh. It may take time, but don’t give up.
Wow. This woman sounds like a tyrant.
But as parents, we know what it’s like when your kids throw a tantrum, or when they get into trouble as a teenager and just won’t listen.
Yeah, I’m sure it’s bad when kids throw tantrums and teens don’t listen. I’m also sure that it’s reality, and you can’t erase stuff from reality. I’ve never understood the parenting approach of deciding you’re going to make sure your kids quit throwing tantrums and not listening, come hell or high water. It’s developmentally appropriate to throw tantrums or not listen. Put more simply, it’s human nature.
So, should parents do nothing about it? No, of course not. But I think there needs to be an expectation that kids and teens are going to act a certain way. My sense is that this letter writer went all Rambo toward her goal of destroying the undesired behaviors. To some extent, while I’m still not saying you shouldn’t do anything, some stuff just has to be outgrown. Like, think about it: what are the odds that a 25-year-old man would enter the kitchen, while sucking on his trailing blankey, and say, “Mommy, Susie pushed me. Make her stop, Mommy,”? Like, zero.
Patience. They outgrow it. The best parenting approach is probably to survive bad behaviors, NOT to annihilate them out of existence. But that could just be me. Of course, there should be limits and rules, etc., but I think this letter writer got too extreme with it all.
I did what I needed to do to raise smart, strong kids, and I feel like I succeeded.
Do I even want to know what she did? Probably not. The above sentence reeks of rationalization. I hope she does some serious soul-searching posthaste. Posthaste!
Oh! In other advice-giving news, Annie Lane is on vacation this week and is airing reruns. Last I checked, she’s not admitting it and is apparently hoping no one will notice. Ugh. She’s such a horrible advice columnist! The great ones admit to being on vacation.