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Ask Ellie: It takes flair to offer advice to teenagers

But if they give you the side-eye or stink-eye, be ready to walk away

Dear Lisi: While in a coffee shop the other day, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a group of teenagers discussing their relationships. There were two girls and two boys. One boy was gay, the other straight. The girls were bemoaning the pathetic antics of their latest short-lived relationships.

The straight guy was defending the actions of the guys in question. The gay guy then called him out, by saying, “Honey, you are perpetuating my mantra: I don’t date boys. I only date men!”

There were high-fives between him and the girls and the fourth guy sat with his tail between his legs. I wanted to sit down with them and give them my sage 28-year-old advice.

Should I have?

Older and wiser

The fact that you were all standing around waiting for your drinks in a small area makes it less rude that you were eavesdropping. It was probably impossible not to hear them. So, with the right attitude and flair, I think you could have pulled it off. But if they gave you the side-eye or stink-eye, I’d quickly walk away. I get the impression from your letter that they would have been open to it.

FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who misses her close relationship with her sister (Oct. 27):

Reader – “I am the sister who apparently needs to be corrected by my sister all the time. Any news I share is met with a negative reply, or criticism, because she always knows better than I do.

“I’m tired of the constant verbal beatings. I recognize and accept she has always had mental health issues, which she has worked hard to address.

“When we speak on the phone, I always make sure to make her laugh about something. She says I’m the only one who makes her laugh.

“Too often our calls end with, ‘I’m sorry but I have to go now’ when one of us is close to losing civility. It affects our family members.

“We ‘get along’ in public for short periods of time, we love each other’s partners and kids, we’re interested in what’s new and support each other during tough times.

“As to your suggestion, there is absolutely no way I would suggest girls’ time with my sister to try to resolve things or explore the causes.

“I love her because she’s my sister but I would have dumped her decades ago if she were a friend. The sad truth is, I don’t really care anymore if it gets better or worse.

“After all those years filled with angst, tears, fears and self-recriminations, my advice to my younger self would be: Some people in your life can’t and won’t change. Accept it and try to be gentle.”

“Just sharing my reality to the writer’s inquiry and your response.”

FEEDBACK regarding the woman who loves her husband but loathes his attitude (Nov. 9):

Reader – “I would add that this woman should find a way of doing something concrete to express her own empathy for Indigenous people, or others who are suffering, through volunteer work, political activism, donations, offering friendship to affected persons, etc. Merely instructing other people to demonstrate correct beliefs, i.e., preaching, is the disease of our time and doesn’t offer all that much hope.

Actions speak louder than words

Lisi – That is a fantastic idea. You’re right that actions speak louder than words, and we can all do more to help those in need. Since we’ve officially entered the season of giving, let’s all think about giving back. Thanks for the reminder.

FEEDBACK Regarding the woman upset about Halloween 2022 now that she and her husband are separated (Nov. 8):

Reader – “As a lawyer and mediator who dealt with family law matters for years, I always worked toward a parenting schedule that addressed all of the upcoming important days during the year, such as winter holidays, summer holidays, spring holidays, birthdays (grandparents, too), Mother’s Day, Father’s Day etc.

“If people organize the year in advance, then following the schedule is easy. If both people really want the kids on the same day, then you just split up the day (e.g., morning to mom and switch to dad for the afternoon) or alternate years. People are usually very willing to solve these issues in advance.

“And no one wants an ex-spouse telling you how to celebrate a “special” day so she needs to stay quiet about 2022 Halloween and resolve the issue for future years.”

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: ellie@thestar.ca.

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