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Count Your Blessings

Caroline Manzo tackles questions on parenting, relationships, and self-esteem.

By Caroline Manzo

Got a question for Caroline? Send it.

How to Watch

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Jennifer from Manahawkin, NJ says: Hi Caroline - Love the show but most of all I love the kind of mother you are. My question is this. I have three children, two boys (12 and 10) and one girl (5). I really, really want another baby, but my husband says absolutely not! He's concerned about finances, room in our house, etc. He is an amazing father, and I think we do such a great job as parents that we are exactly the type of parents who should be having more children. I know too many people that pop out kids, and then don't take care of them. It breaks my heart, because I just want to be a mom, that's all I ever wanted. How am I supposed to deal with not having another baby. I'm only 32, but the clock is ticking. We have discussed this topic for years and hundreds of times. He's a definite no and I'm a definite yes! Help!

PS: Should I get him drunk and take advantage or what?

Caroline says: Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer... Count your blessings! You seem to have a wonderful family life that includes a doting father and three beautiful children, be happy! 

I have to agree with your husband on this one. It isn't easy raising a family today, and I can understand where he's coming from. Think about college tuition, clothes, extra curricular activities, medical bills, and whatever other surprises pop up along the way. You tell me that he is a doting father and a great provider, so why would you want to put unnecessary pressure on him? It appears to me that this is a true sticking point in the relationship. I can understand if you've discussed having children and never did, that's a promise broken, but you've got three children so he's kept his end of the deal.

I can promise you this as sure as I know my name, if you keep up with the "argument," it will eventually strain your relationship and in doing so will ultimately affect the children.

Another thing that seems to be screaming at me as I read in between the lines; I know the feeling of being a mom, there's no greater joy in the world. However, you cannot let being a mother define who you are. Yes, it's a huge roll that you will play until your dying day. Having said that, you are also a wife and an individual. Never lose sight of that, remember to keep the spark alive between you and your husband. Being a mom and dad are very important roles, but being a husband and wife is the glue that holds the family together.  

Now let's talk about getting him drunk and taking advantage. Hey, I'm all for it, but for the right reasons! Having children is a life-changing situation and should be discussed and agreed upon by the two of you. There's no room for joking.

Jennifer you seem like a loving, devoted mother, and I commend you, I really do. You have three healthy children that live a blessed life. Love your children and your husband with all of your heart and realize how lucky you are to have them. BE HAPPY.

Andrea from Houston, TX says: How do you forgive someone that has hurt you in the past?

Caroline says: Forgiveness takes a fair amount of courage Andrea. You need to step past the hurt and betrayal and move forward while leaving all the baggage behind. 

I think a key factor in forgiveness is communication. You need to talk about your hurt with the offender and make sure that there's a clear understanding of the hows and the whys of the situation. Hopefully there's a mutual understanding which allows you both to move forward in a healing direction. 

On the flip side, there are times when the offender doesn't recognize what they've done or maybe they don't care to recognize the offense. This is where it gets tricky. This is where you have to be the bigger person and just let it go. Sometimes you have to understand people for who and what they are, their personality DNA. When you recognize that there will be no give and take, but you understand that there needs to be resolution, that's when you have to put your big girl pants on and let it go. Things may be awkward at first, but over time will eventually return to normal or whatever normal is for that relationship. Just know what your dealing with and hopefully you won't have to relive or repeat an uncomfortable situation.

Another reason we hurt is because we care. If we didn't care it wouldn't hurt, right? Therefore, where there is caring and love, there is forgiveness. You can't expect hearts to mend right away, it's a process. Take your time and allow your feelings to adjust. In will happen, promise 

When life gives you heartache, there's usually a lesson in there somewhere. Look for it and learn from it! Remember, we're all human and make mistakes; it's the end game that counts. Good luck!

Nicole from Houston, TX says: Momma Caroline, I'm a 24 year old that has only been in one relationship. No, not one serious relationship, one relationship, period. The guy that I dated in college for two and a half years decided he felt pressured to get married. I never brought up marriage ever, but that's beside the point. He decided to tell me two days before my 22nd birthday that he had been cheating on me with an ex-girlfriend. It turns out the cheating story was a lie, and he just wanted an out of the relationship. Fast forward two years and now the guy is back again. He has matured a lot and has told me multiple times that he made an awful mistake. It seems like he is trying to woo me back. I can't seem to find anyone else worth my time here in Houston, and I feel like I might still have feelings for him. I'm scared that I'll make the decision to go back with him, and he'll screw me over one more time, or that I'll make the decision to ignore him and I'll end up alone the rest of my life. What do you think I should do?

Caroline says: Let's do the math here. You were in a relationship while in college for two and a half years that ended just short of your 22nd birthday. That tells me you were 19 when you started dating this guy. You were a baby! I'm not going to come down too hard on your former boyfriend, because he was young too, so I'm going to give him a pass on the break up, no matter how lame the excuse was. I'm not sure why he would go to great lengths to hurt you with a story like that if it weren't true –- just sayin'. Having said that, I have to still give him a pass because of his age.

Fast forward to now, you're 24 and he's back. 

I hear the fear that "the clock is ticking" in your voice. Nonsense! I need a little more background on what you've been doing for the past two years. Are you working? Have you been growing as an individual and getting to know and understand the strength of YOU? I hope so. One thing you said bothers me. You told me that you couldn't seem to find anyone else worth your time. I wonder if you're thinking of going back to him because it's easy and familiar. Settling for someone because it's the only option will never work. Love and happiness can never be manufactured; it comes from the heart. If you don't have true feelings for this person, or don't feel like there is potential for them, then don't get involved. It's only a band-aid over your heart that will eventually have to be ripped off.

Finally, if you DO have feelings, then go for it. Take your time and go slowly, no need to rush. You're only 24 years old! Maybe he did mature; maybe he did see that he made a mistake. It happens all of the time. Be sure to have an open relationship where you can communicate your feelings freely to each other. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither are healthy relationships that have staying power. You will have ups and downs, twists and turns, laughter and tears. All of these trials, tribulations, and emotions are the foundation on which true love is built. I wish you nothing but the best and don't be scared! Trust me, there is someone out there waiting for someone just like you!

Kathy from Lincroft, NJ says: Hi Caroline! My children's friends are starting to get their driver's licenses. I am a nervous wreck when it comes to that. Did you let your kids ride around with their friends who were able to drive before them? I would love to know what you think about this. Thanks!

 Caroline says: Oh boy, do I remember this feeling! Terror, absolute terror! The bottom line is this Kathy -- your children are growing up. Part of the process is having faith in them to make the right decisions and act responsibly. I did allow my kids to drive with their friends who had licenses, but I was very strict about when and where. Generally I tried to keep it during the week, daytime for starters. If I saw that they were responsible, I gave them a little more freedom. They had to earn it.

If there ever was a situation that left me uncomfortable, for instance a party, a school dance, anything where alcohol may come into play, I drove them. I never cared what the other kids parents did or said. My children were my responsibility, and if the other parents thought I was crazy, so be it. You know your child, make sure you know their friends, don’t be afraid to set ground rules, i.e. I want you to call me the minute you get there and before you get into the car on the way back, if someone is drinking call home and we'll come get you no matter what time or where you are, if you get into a car with someone who's been drinking there will be hell to pay, etc. Get the picture? Make sure your children understand what a huge responsibility driving is, not only to themselves, but also to everyone else on the road. I always told my kids that a vehicle is like a weapon that needs to be respected and handled properly. There's no room for error.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, Kathy. As our children grow, we experience growing pains with them on a whole different level. We worry, we pray, and we get grey hair in the process. It seems to be the unwritten law of parenthood -- the bigger they get, the bigger the worries. Just find comfort in knowing that you're not alone!

Meghan from New York, NY says: In today's world, there is so much pressure on girls/women and our appearance. It often seems to stand in the way of our wellbeing. How do you feel about our weight and appearance obsessed society, and how do you think girls and women can combat it?

Caroline says: This is an interesting question, Meghan, and I have two schools of thought on it. I agree that we live in a society that puts a huge emphasis on physical appearance. It seems that we're all fighting to beat father time at his own game, trying looking fabulous at any expense.

There's a difference in personal hygiene and overall good health versus vanity. If you were to tell me that you're getting Botox or lip injections to fit into society, I'd try to shake some sense into you. If you're not secure about yourself, there's no amount of plastic surgery that will ever make you feel adequate. Superficial beauty fades over time, confidence in yourself grows and becomes the true beauty that will always shine through.

Now lets look at the flipside. It's your basic responsibility in life to put your best foot forward in everything you do. Your personal appearance is no exception. Maybe you're overweight, fine, work on trying to get yourself into shape for your health, if nothing else. Maybe you can't afford designer clothes, so what, always look clean and put together, dress appropriately for your age and body type. There's nothing more ridiculous that a person dressing out of their element trying to fit in. It just doesn't work.

Don't use your physical appearance as a crutch. It's a poor excuse, and no one's going to buy it. Know who you are and work it! Yes, we do live in a society full of Barbie and Ken dolls, and it takes a very confident person to march to the beat of his or her own drum. Be the best you there is. You need to know and understand your strengths and weaknesses, never let someone's outward appearance make you feel inadequate. The difference is simply this, change what you want to change about yourself for your own gratification, not to please others. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that true confidence is a beauty that never grows old and can never be outshined!

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