Got a question for Caroline? Send it.
Malerie from Lynchburg, VA says: How do you tell a best friend to grow up without coming across like a total b---- or ruining your friendship?
Caroline says: Good question Malerie.
If I had to define what true friendship means to me, it would be a person that sticks with you through the good times as well as the bad. A true friend will tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. A true friend will understand where I'm coming from and won't stay mad or judge me for who or what I am. With true friendship comes acceptance for who you are, not what someone wants you to be.
If your friend is behaving in a manner that is becoming a sticking point in your relationship, it needs to be addressed. Sweeping your feelings under the rug will only produce negative feelings towards her and get you nowhere fast.
First and foremost you need to stay calm and state your case clearly without making her feel as if she's being attacked. Her natural instinct will probably be to "hit" back. If she does, hear her out, listen to what she has to say, try to understand where she's coming from and respond in a calm, positive manner. Yelling and screaming at each other only makes for an ugly catfight and will ultimately have no resolution. Make your friend understand that you're only having the conversation because you care about her and value your friendship.
Stay the course and don't get caught up in the drama. It's never easy to hear something negative about yourself, but sometimes the truth hurts. Hopefully your friend will understand where you're coming from and thank you for it later. If not, then so be it. I'd rather be the best friend I know how to be, and I would want my friends to feel the same way in return. True friendship is a rare gift that usually will stand the test of time. Good luck, Malerie!
Virginia from Setauket, NY says: Caroline, I have a relationship with my son that is very much the same as the one you have with your sons. This August my Adam will be leaving to go to college, and I'm already dreading not only having to say good-bye, but also coming home without him. How do I let him go without falling apart? And what tips can you give me on saying good-bye without crying? I can't stand the thought of him feeling guilty about going away to school.
Caroline says: Oh brother, do I remember this feeling! The good news, Virginia, is that you'll survive, I promise!
I remember so vividly feeling the sense of dread as I shopped with Albie for his dorm room necessities. The good news is he understood what him leaving meant to me, and we were able to joke about it. Through our laughter we got our feelings out. We also spoke about the responsibility of living away from home at length. What I'm trying to convey is communication. Express your feelings to him in whatever way works best for you both.
There's no denying that it's a huge step for both of you. For him it represents a sense of adventure and freedom; for you it's a floodgate of worries, fear, and sense of loss. Guess what? It's totally understandable! One huge point that I need to stress to you -- it's not goodbye! It's "I'll see ya later!" This I learned the hard way. I'm not going to lie, for the first year I would cry every single time I dropped Albie off at school after a weekend home. As soon as he was out of eyesight I'd burst into tears. But as time went by I saw my little boy turn into a man. This experience was good for him, and it would be so wrong of me to stand in his way.
Albie always jokes about his moving in day at Fordham. My husband and children were watching me knowing I was going to crack; it was just a question of when. I was pretty good, I have to admit. I helped him set his dorm room up, made the bed, put the toiletries away, all the while giving him all kinds of survival tips. He stood there with the biggest smile on his face knowing how hard this was for me and loving me for keeping it together! Well the dam finally broke when I had to leave. I didn't say anything, he just hugged me and laughed and told me what he always tells me, "You're a crazy old lady, but I love you." Bottom line is this -- he understood and allowed me to have my moment. Know one thing; you're not alone! There's going to be thousands of "crazy old ladies" crying all over the country! Over time you will see your little boy turn into a man and experience what a wonderful feeling that is.
Pam from Orange Park, FL: My question is complex. My 21 year old (almost 22 year old) daughter does not drive, nor does she have the ambition to drive. My father is going to buy her a car as he did for my niece, and this has done nothing to motivate her. I am her taxi driver, and it's frustrating for me to say the least. She claims me and my husband's cars are too big to drive. All her friends have tried to help, and she claims she gets panic attacks. I feel like she is just scared. It's very inconvenient as she works full time at different hours, and I am her ride! We even suggested driver's ed. Help! What can I do to get this kid on the road?
Caroline says: I hear what you're saying Pam, and I sympathize with you. I also get where your daughter is coming from too. As a parent we want nothing more than to see our children thrive, and when they hit a roadblock that doesn't make sense to us, it can be very frustrating. I also can understand what your daughter is going through too. We all have fears. For me it's mice, I can't even look at a photo of one without reacting. Silly, right? To me it's not. It's a legitimate fear that I can't explain.
I'm wondering what caused this fear in your daughter. Was she ever involved in an accident? Did she see one when she was younger that left an impression on her? Has anyone in your family ever been hurt in one?
If so, then I have a better understanding of her fear. If not, it certainly makes things harder to accept. So let's get down to the nitty gritty of things. She's 22 years old and has turned down the prospect of a brand new car. That says a lot to me. That tells me this is a legitimate fear and should be addressed as such. Next question, has she ever had a panic attack or is she assuming she would have one if she ever got behind the wheel? There's a difference. What driving experience has she had? Did she ever take drivers ed in school? Have you tried private lessons from an accredited driving school? If the answer to most of these questions is yes, then I would suggest that you not push her. Maybe she'll grow out of this fear as she matures, maybe not. Some people are not meant to drive, and your daughter might be one of them.
This brings us to our next issue. You playing taxi. I get it, we bend over backwards for our kids. Sometimes it's the wrong thing to do. Your daughter is making a conscious decision not to drive. In making that decision, she has to understand that she has to live with the consequences. If your daughter were making strides in conquering her fear of driving and moving forward to correct it, then I would cut her a little slack. I'd bite the bullet and show my support by driving her around until she got her license. However this isn't the case. Now you're becoming an enabler. You obviously can't be her chauffer all her life. It's unfair of her to expect that. If she needs a ride here and there every now and again, fine. To live your life by her schedule is unreasonable and selfish to expect on her part. It's time for your daughter to put her big girl pants on. She either moves forward to try and conquer her fear, or she adjusts her life to deal with it without putting undue stress on friends and family.
I have to stress one very important thought. Driving is a huge responsibility. If you are incapable of acting responsibly behind the wheel, then you shouldn't be driving. If your daughter has a legitimate fear, then I in no way believe she is capable of handling a vehicle on her own at this point. By doing so she is putting her life and the life of others in jeopardy. Hopefully over time she will learn to deal with her fear and ultimately conquer it.
Marie from Carmel, IN says: Dear Caroline - I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day! In the grand scheme of things, this may seem like a small matter, but it's one that makes me feel out of place amongst my peers on a daily basis. I'm nearly 18, about to graduate high school and head off to school in California, and I've never been on a date. Never been kissed. Never even held hands with a guy outside of church. By no stretch of the imagination would I be considered a beauty, nor am I outgoing. Rather I'm a fairly shy coffee shop kind of girl, who enjoys reading Victorian Literature, watching Disney movies, and shopping. Hence guys seem to not see me at all unless they need to have their papers edited. How do I get them to notice me while still remaining true to myself and values?
Caroline says: Wow, wow, wow! You just brought me back forty years Marie. Guess what? I was that girl! I was extraordinarily shy in high school. I was the new girl from Queens, NY that didn't fit in our quiet N.J. community. I dressed differently, I acted differently, and just didn't blend. I was never asked to prom, a dance, or even out on a date until the very end of my senior year. I can't tell you how many times I sat home while my friends went to dances, football games, etc. The truth of the matter is I never minded. I too loved to read, I still do. I knew I was different, and that was OK with me. I had my group of friends and although it was a small group, they were true and real. I never got involved in all the crazy drama that was inevitable in the life of a teenager. Knowing who you are is a tremendous advantage, Marie; it's just a matter of taking that knowledge and channeling it in a positive direction.
I'm happy to hear you're going off to college. That in itself is a wonderful adventure and will certainly provide excitement in your life. Having said that, I need you to stay true to who you are. Don't fall prey to the insecurities of others. It takes a very strong person to stay true to him or herself and march to the beat of their own drum. I never ever looked at the person next to me and wished I were them. I was never the prettiest, nor the smartest, nor the most popular girl in school. So what, I'm still standing.
So you've never kissed a boy or even held hands with one. That's okay! You're so young and you have such a wonderful life waiting for you. Go to California, make new friends, but remain true to who you are!
Trust me when I tell you that in life you will face many challenges. In order to deal with these challenges, you have to have a strong core in knowing and accepting yourself for who and what you are. The fact that guys don't relate to you in a sexual way shows me that you command respect from them. That's fabulous. I know you don't think so now, but it's true. There's someone out there for you, and you need to just let things happen as they're meant to happen. You said you like Disney movies. Well then you're familiar with the saying, "Someday my prince will come!" He's out there, I promise!
Angie from Grandview, WA says: Caroline - My 29 year old son has a little boy who is 3 years old. He has him every weekend, and they usually come and stay at our home. It seems that when my son is here, he's on vacation while my daughter and I feed, change, bathe and spend time with my grandson. I asked him nicely if he can be more involved, and he stormed out with the baby! What do I do? We first started this when the baby was small so we could help him out. Now it seems we created a monster! Help!
Caroline says: Hmm, I hate to say it Angie, but your son sounds like a brat. I'm curious to know how his relationship is with the mother of his child. Was it a friendly separation? Do you have a relationship with your grandchild's mother? I'm only asking because I'm wondering if she can help with the process of helping your son mature. Your son doesn't sound like someone who has grasped the full scope of what being a parent entails. I understand how you're feeling from a mother's point of view. You want to help your son, and there's no greater joy than spending time with your grandchild. However it should be fun, not work!
Quite frankly, if your son doesn't appreciate what your family does for him and continues to throw fits, I'd let him leave. As long as your grandchild's well-being isn't compromised. I'd let him throw his fit and leave. Something tells me he'll be back with his tail between his legs.
That's why I asked what your relationship with the baby's mother is. I don't want you and your family to suffer if he uses the baby as a tool to hurt you. Maybe you can devise a schedule with the baby's mother to see your grandchild on your own terms.
Does your son get involved at all? Does he take the time to play with his son, take him for walks, anything? Can you maybe use the time you have with him as an excuse to do things as a larger family unit, whereby he interacts with him in a group rather than one on one? In doing so he may eventually warm up to wanting to spend time with him alone and start acting as a responsible father.
Sometimes you have to take people down a peg or two to make them realize the good they have in life. Your son seems to me to be a little selfish, who only cares about me, myself, and I. He needs to understand that he gave that right up three years ago when he became a father.