Q: You know that nice, sweet voice that most people use to talk to babies and young children? I don’t have it. And I have two children. My mom friends good-naturedly tease me about it, but I can tell they think it’s strange. It started off that I just don’t do baby talk, but now I notice people look at me funny when I talk to my kids. I just am who I am. Is this bad?
A: I can’t tell you. One person’s bark is another person’s lullaby.
Are you affectionate and warm, even if your voice doesn’t rise an octave? Do you have ways of interacting with them that are special and can easily be differentiated from how you behave with a customer service agent from Comcast? Do you not use a different voice because it doesn’t feel right? Or might it be reflective of hidden annoyance or resentment? If you want feedback, ask one of your friends to go beyond the joking and level with you about how they really see it. And ask yourself if you feel like your relationship with your kids feels healthy – because that is what matters, not whether you’re a soprano or a contralto.
Q: I’m giving my boyfriend a second chance after he cheated on me. My mom believes we broke up, because she assumed that’s what I’d do when I told her about his cheating. She’s constantly talking about how I’m going to find someone better. So this is awkward! How can I tell her that we’re still together?
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A: Although you’ve given him a second chance, that doesn’t mean you can convince her to, at least not right away. But you can make her feel heard. And the more you validate her feelings, the less likely she is to keep harping on it. Then you can let time - and (hopefully) his redemption - do the rest.
“Mom, I’ve made a decision you might not be happy with, and I should have told you earlier. I’m giving Bart a second chance. We can talk about my reasons. I can understand how you might not agree with me, and I get that you might remain angry at him. But I’m moving forward in the way I’ve chosen. How can we prevent this from affecting my relationship with you?” Now that I’ve become your Cyrano de Bergerac, give it a try - at a relaxed, private time – and see how we do.