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Ask Shari: Moving, Education and Vacations

Q1.) Hi Shari, my husband and I are having a hard time deciding where we should live. We are currently in a city but both of our families are from different parts of the state, and we can’t seem to find a middle ground. We don’t have kids yet but we will in the next few years so obviously there are conversations about grandparents being around.

If both partners have equal desire to have their families involved, how do you compromise? Do you know of other couples who have gone through this? What are your best recommendations for a resolution?

A1.) Hi there, Picking a Spot. I appreciate the dilemma you and your husband are experiencing! It is in fact a popular one for couples who are lucky enough to have two sets of parents. This is an excellent problem to have when you think about it, but a problem none the less. Unfortunately I agree with you that this predicament can become a larger issue when grandchildren enter the situation. Fortunately I do have some advice to help counsel you through.

First and foremost, this is a decision that will need to be made by you and your husband, not the parents, or the future babies. I’d like to assume that each of your families of origin made the choices that they needed to in order to raise you. It is crucial that you and the hubster get on the same page about where you see yourself having a family and why.

I think that if you can establish some priorities for your future, and hear one another’s thoughts with openness and appreciation (not fear and contempt for what you may lose), you can develop a dream that makes sense for both of you. No living situation is perfect, maybe by putting your heads together you can figure out a really good middle ground that encompasses the best of a few worlds.

If you dreamed of raising your family close to your parents and you can’t imagine adapting to a new dream, and your husband feels the same way THAT IS OK! There is still plenty of compromise and adjusting to work on. If one of you wants to have their parents living in their backyard and the other can’t imagine living in the same zip code as their parents, THAT IS OK! What is most important is that you work together to figure it out, which is what makes a relationship a great one, the working through stuff together ☺

If family is a huge consideration for both of you, it may make sense to involve them in the situation. For instance, does one set of parents work? Are any or all of them retired? Which family enjoys traveling? Which family may be willing to relocate? Does anyone have parents that are more than likely going to be traveling in their future and not home raising grandbabies full time? All of these things will need to be considered when making this decision.

Other recommendations:

1. Take. Your. Time! Do not rush into any decisions quickly. It’s OK to let some things fall into place before you move.

2. If anyone is putting pressure on you, even if you are pressuring yourself, make it stop! This is not a decision that needs to be made quickly and it is not recommended that it takes place under pressure.

3. Take the opinion of others into consideration, but remain a unified team when making decisions. Don’t make decisions without the team!

4. Trust in the team you and your husband have made together, if you guys make a mistake, you can fix it together. It’s all part of the ride… enjoy it all.

Good luck!

Q2.) Hello, I am having a difficult time getting along with my sons teacher. He is in third grade and his teacher is probably in her 50’s but she seems to have a serious grudge against my son and me. Although he is a rambunctious kid, he certainly is not out of control and is usually quite polite. Furthermore, when I have talked to her about classroom issues, she is quite rude and short. I am trying to be patient but I am having a hard time dealing with this lady. Any advice?

A2.) Oh boy, thank you Trying to Be Patient, I appreciate this question on so many levels! I, too, have struggled with my child’s teacher from time to time. The idea that a person with so much power over you and your child is not a friendly person can be really hard to deal with! It is so hard to be in this position where standing up for yourself and protecting your child may actually make the situation worse for your child. I do have some pointers to help you feel less vulnerable in this situation.

I think the best way through this is to use all the Zen you have in you and relax. I think you may be in this situation for a whole year and the less you let your feathers get ruffled the better. As a Restorative Justice professional, I can explain that the art of calming down when you actually should be getting angrier is not always easy to teach, or learn. I however believe that these skills work best when it comes to dealing with important people in your life that are rude or short with you.

The first thing to remember is that anger is not an emotion in and of itself; it exists because of the absence or the abundance of other emotions. In this case, I would guess that you are becoming angry with this teacher because she is making you feel fear for your child’s academic and emotional well-being. People will typically extend their emotions toward the source of their pain rather than try to manage feeling all of it themselves. In this example, it is emotionally preferred to feel anger than fear, anxiety or vulnerability. Unfortunately anger doesn’t prevent the root cause of the issue. The woman makes you feel uncomfortable, and bad.

Instead of getting angry and responding in anger, I would suggest you discuss the root issue. I think the next time you request a meeting with her you request another classroom or school representative attend with you. Keep absolutely focused on the idea that you want to make things work and you are willing to make any adjustments you can on your end to do so. Name the issue, which in this case is, the teacher seems to have an issue with your son’s behavior, and she isn’t working well with you to address the need. Let them know this is your PERCEPTION and that you are not ACCUSING the teacher of doing this intentionally. Try to make an assumption that the teacher does not know how she is impacting you and your kiddo.

When you approach the situation in a manner in which you are trying to grow, take accountability, extend the benefit of the doubt and improve, it usually goes in a positive direction. If she does not respond to your attempts to do this, appeal to others in the meeting to help. If you are responsible, and gracious and she still shoots you down then it will be obvious to everyone that she is the problem and the situation may need to go to an administrator.
Good luck!

Q3.) Shari, I am going on an extended vacation for the first time with my boyfriend. We have only been together for about 4 months, and we only see each other once every couple of weeks! Everything is going great and we get along perfectly, but this is the first time I will be with him for more than 24 hours, and we will be gone for 3 weeks. I am nervous that things might get difficult, or we may not get along as well as we thought when we spend more time together. Am I over thinking this? Thanks!!

A3.) Hi Bon Voyage, happy vacation, yay!! I am not sure you are “overthinking” this, but I am not sure you have anything to worry about either. Taking a trip together is part of a very natural progression in a relationship, one that is going to come up eventually. I can’t say what will happen, but I can say with certainty that worrying about things does not protect you in any way shape or form, it only exhausts you! The problem is; once you are exhausted, you are ill prepared to keep yourself from worrying. Ugh, such a nasty cycle, that we ALL fall into!

I would recommend that you do something I like to call “protect your vacation”. Basically, that is it, protect your vacation because vacations are supposed to be wonderful and they don’t always come around. In fact, make a deal with yourself that you are having fun and relaxing on this vacation and unless something HUGE comes up, you are staying positive.

I can recommend that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) skills are fantastic in helping folks with re-framing their circumstance and processing their emotions in a healthy, constructive way. I would arm myself with some thoughts about other vacations you have experienced and what may have been hard for you.

Make a plan to manage any circumstance that you can control. For instance, if you are an introvert, make sure that there is down time built into the day and evening for you to deescalate from the events of the day or evening. If the opposite is true, make sure that the extrovert in you has a plan to be out soaking it all in as much as you need. Other than things that are in your control like schedules and itineraries, let the rest go and plan to remain positive by using some skills.

There are plenty of workbooks that can walk you through learning these types of skills, but I would recommend one or two sessions with a therapist or counselor. I will be the first to admit that I am not only a therapist, but a fond user of many CBT skills because they are great to have on vacation and in life. Vacations can be hard, it’s different and people are not always on their best behavior when they are out of their familiar environments. Be patient and mindful but most of all have fun!