DEAR HARRIETTE: I have spent years being mad at my father about things that he did and said to me when I was a child.
I grew up in his household, and he was harsh. He was a taskmaster, and he expected everyone in the family to do exactly what he said, or else suffer his glaring eye. I was so mad at him because I felt like he didn’t love me. He was rarely warm or kind.
My father has been dead a long time now. As I look at my own kids and those of friends, I realize that his lessons pushed me to excel. A lot of kids today are complacent and get away with not striving to be their best. My father’s methods worked.
I still wish he were kinder, but I see the impact he had on my life, and it turns out it was good. He drove me to be responsible and successful.
My father is long gone. How can I forgive him and teach my children the benefits he gave me? I don’t usually talk about him kindly.
DEAR PERSPECTIVE: It’s great that you finally see some value in your father’s approach to parenting and life. This refreshed understanding should help you to forgive him.
Next, you can begin to tell your children about him and the lessons he taught you. Be honest. He was harsh and consistent with his values and rules, and often, that upset you. Tell them. But also explain that because of how strict he was, you have developed a discipline and drive that have served you well.
Attempt to teach your children the lessons he instilled in you, but without the hard edge. Point out when they are slacking and what the consequences may be.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a college student, and I share a dorm room with a girl who is pretty nice, but she has boundary issues.
My roommate is constantly “borrowing” my stuff. She uses my shampoo. She will wear a sweater that’s hanging in my closet if it matches her outfit better than her own sweater. She will even eat my food if it’s in the refrigerator and she is hungry.
I grew up in a household where people were constantly “borrowing” stuff from me, and I hated it. This person is not related to me, and I’m not having it. How can I get my point across without being rude?
DEAR HANDS OFF: Sit down with your roommate and have a direct conversation with her. Tell her that you do not like to share your stuff. This includes clothing, food, toiletries, etc. In the future, if she wants to borrow something of yours, tell her she must ask and get your permission. Otherwise, she should assume that the answer is no.
Label the food that you put in the refrigerator. Store your clothing in drawers, if at all possible. Keep your toiletries in a shower caddy in your personal area. Make it hard for her to invade your space. That may help.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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Author: Harriette Cole