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Ask Lisi: Dad’s tantrum over minidress warrants family meeting

Sometimes it’s shocking to realize how quickly your kids have grown
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Advice columnist Lisi Tesher

Dear Lisi: My young teenage daughter was invited to a friend’s birthday celebration. It was a big event with a DJ and dancing. Two of her friends’ parents offered to carpool, and I was grateful as I just had surgery and can’t drive.

When my daughter came downstairs, she was wearing what my husband and I refer to as the party “uniform” – a skin-tight bandage dress. Our daughter is very tall and thin for her age, and has no shape to her whatsoever. She hasn’t hit puberty. But I guess she’s grown even taller since we bought the dress because it was way too short. I only noticed as she was saying goodbye when the carpool arrived to pick her up.

I was already in bed when she got home, and heard her and my husband arguing. She stormed upstairs crying and ran into her room. He stormed in, appalled that I had “let her go out like that.” I admitted to him that I thought the dress was too short but it was too late when I noticed.

He’s furious with me, disgusted with her, and in a rage. What are my next steps here?

Teenage clothing wars

There’s a lot going on here, but you need to protect yourself while you heal from surgery. Call a family meeting with your husband and daughter, but express strongly that there is to be no yelling. Just calm conversation with the hopes of hearing each other out, understanding everyone’s views, and a goal of coming to an agreement.

Your daughter may or may not realize that her dress was a bit too short, but she’s defensive because her dad yelled at her when she got home. Your husband isn’t really disgusted with your daughter. He’s probably slightly shocked that his baby girl is growing up, that she went out dressed like a woman, and feels protective. And his anger at you is based on the fact that you “let her out.” You’re suffering post-op, probably not on top of everything as you normally are, and lack energy.

Now that you each know where your emotions are coming from, you can calmly discuss. Your husband will hopefully apologize to both of you. I’m certain your daughter won’t balk at having to buy a new dress. And you can make an agreement that before she leaves the house, she checks in with both of you, with enough time to change if necessary.

Dear Lisi: I’m a grandmother to five fabulous granddaughters, each special in their own way. They are all bright, entertaining, fun, friendly, and a pleasure to be around. I adore my daughter and her husband and see how they parent; they are wise, patient, and supportive.

I also adore my son, but have had a hard time getting close with my daughter-in-law. She is not warm and open like the rest of our family. I observe how they parent, and I see a constant push and pull between them. As a couple, they clearly love each other. But as parents, they differ greatly in their methods and manner. He, not surprisingly, is more like his sister and her husband — warm, loving and supportive. She is more hands-off, cold, and I often hear her putting her children down.

I worry about the negative affects on their daughters. I often have to leave the room for fear of speaking out. Is there anything I can do?

Loving Grandma

Walking away and swallowing your thoughts is a smart move. If you think it won’t damage your relationship, you could talk to your son. Ask him if he notices a difference in their parenting, and if it bothers him. He may appreciate your support and advice; but he won’t appreciate any negative comments.

FEEDBACK Regarding the woman with the unwanted tattoo (Oct. 17):

Reader – “Rather than risk scarring, the young lady could enlist the aid of another tattooist to change the existing picture. This process could cover the initials and change the backstory for the art.

“By adding a dog, cat and rooster to the donkey it becomes the story of the Town Musicians of Bremen. It is no longer vindictive, but a whimsical fairy tale.”

Lisi – For those who don’t know (I had to look it up), the fairy tale entitled “The Town Musicians of Bremen,” while not as well-known today as other Grimm’s fairy tales, conveys a valuable lesson in resilience and refusing to accept and comply when others put you down. This is exactly the message this woman needs to hear; revenge will get you nowhere. Find your strength, pick yourself up and forge ahead.

Email ellie@thestar.ca or lisi@thestar.ca