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Margo Howard


Mom Purloins the Diary Dear Margo: I found out last week that our 17-year-old high school junior is having sex with her boyfriend! First of all, I found out the wrong way: I snooped in her room and read her diary. Second, she would never admit to it, so my husband …Read more. The Bad Seed Dear Margo: I never thought I would write to an advice columnist, but here goes. I've been dating someone for about a year now, and we talk of marriage occasionally. He's ready for commitment and very gung-ho about us getting married, which is …Read more. Oh, and, Uh, By the Way... Dear Margo: I am soon to be 27 years old, and my only serious relationship ended a few years ago. In hopes of avoiding the standard meat market of dating, I'm considering registration with I've also had my share of casual relationships.…Read more. It Is in the Bible, but Not in the Stars Dear Margo: I have been dating a wonderful man for four months now. He is very kind and sweet in every way. We are much in love and happy together. There is only one problem: We are different religions. I am a Christian; he is agnostic. I have …Read more.
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What's Up with That?


Dear Margo: I really don't know what to do about my mother. It's as though she's made a career out of not listening to what I say ... or she's dedicated herself to doing the opposite. Right after I told her I was going on a diet and staying away from sugary things, she sends me a five-pound box of chocolates. (We live far apart, and she sends packages from time to time.)

At the very least, she is not listening to me, or worse, she hears exactly what I am saying. This strikes me as insensitive. I don't know what to do about it — or her. — Talking to the Wall

Dear Talk: Sending chocolates to anyone (especially a daughter) following an announcement of a diet is just hostile, passive aggressive and sabotaging. There is nothing you can do about her, but for yourself, you can try to understand where the pushback is coming from. Understanding a situation makes it more manageable (and less of an irritant).

Because you cannot make her hear you or behave appropriately, train yourself to ignore all the noise and save yourself aggravation. As "crazy mothers" go, yours is not at the top of the list. You can't improve her behavior, so work on yourself to diminish the annoyance quotient. Just using the chocolates as an example, I would've written her a note saying, "Thanks! I gave it to Gail. My diet is going really well!" — Margo, protectively

Look Neither Right nor Left

Dear Margo: I am 18 and a senior in high school. I have great future plans to look forward to, and I have worked hard to get where I am now. Although I've accomplished many things I am proud of, I always let the "greater" achievements of others (particularly my friends) make me doubt myself.

I know deep down that the accomplishments of others do not detract from my own, but still I feel myself slipping back into a negative and self-loathing mindset. I know that thinking like this is holding me back in a lot of ways, but I can't seem to shake it.

Occasionally, I am truly happy for someone when they have done something impressive, but if this person has hurt me in any way in the past, I am immediately taken over by petty jealousy and wonder why I can't be as good. Although I try to be outwardly supportive, I am afraid that my resentment will start to show — if it hasn't already.

I know I tend to crave approval and often feel I don't get it, but then I realize I'm probably just being too hard on them or making a fuss over nothing. How can I feel better about myself, become a better friend and start focusing on the positive? If there's a big secret I'm missing out on, I'd like to know! — Not Good Enough

Dear Not: Somewhere along the way, your sense of self-worth got dented and insecurity and inferiority took over. I do not care for the word "self-esteem" because it has become so hackneyed, but that does seem to be your main issue — that and an instinct to compare yourself to others, which is a mug's game, by the way, because there always will be someone smarter, prettier, richer, whatever, so conserve your emotional energy.

Other people's achievements really have nothing to do with you. Should it prove too difficult to pull yourself together in this regard, consider using a therapist's help to get to the root of your competitive, self-demeaning instincts. I believe you can outgrow this by working through it. — Margo, productively

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers' daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.




43 Comments | Post Comment
Re LW2: Many of the feelings you're expressing ( a sense of competitiveness, desire for achievement, etc.) can actually serve you well in the world. You just need to find a way to balance your need for external validation with your own sense of self. Which is really hard sometimes. I struggle with the same things (a lot of people do), and one thing that helps me is to look at the good things in my life and give myself credit for my part in putting them there. I make a mental list of all the things I have to be proud of. Somehow, the fact that I know these things about myself is enough, even if the world at large doesn't know them. Validation from peers and bosses is nice, but it's not always forthcoming, and for reasons that often have nothing to do with your performance or merit. So it's important to cultivate the ability to look at your achievements objectively. The more self-confidence you can develop (in school, in work, in life), the more likely the things you're craving will find you. And, interestingly enough, the less you'll need those things.

Unfortunately, some of this probably only comes with age and experience, which doesn't help that much in the here and now. Still, it's worth it to take stock of yourself not just as you compare to others, but it terms of where you wanted or expected to be. You'll likely measure up a lot better than you think.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Laura
Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:11 AM
Re: Laura

Nothing to add on LW2: fantastic post and I couldn't agree more.

LW1: I usually read Margo at another site because she comes out a full day earlier there, and many of the commenters there mentioned that their own mothers act in a similar manner. One made the comment that if the LW had said she was an alcoholic, would the mother have sent tequila and bourbon? My personal opinion on this one is mixed. My mother also sends me stuff she knows I don't like or can't use, but I blow it off for the most part as her trying to do something nice and leave it at that. A gift is a gift is a gift to me: sometimes people give me stuff I can't use and I don't try to find some DEEP DARK CONSPIRACY about why they do it. I usually just regift it or throw it away.

BUT, it's not like that for everyone. I have friends who have mothers who are open sabateurs (is that a word? I mean mothers who want to sabatage their successa or happiness). My best friend's mother openly rips her on Facebook for any present or card she sends, then sends her tent dresses saying "You still have a few pounds to lose dear" (this after my friend lost 120 pounds and looks FANTASTIC). Another friend's mother in law (these tend to be the worst) sends her used dish towels (I'm not kidding!) for her birthday (what type of message does that send?).

I guess my points to the LW are 1. Your mom probably is just absent minded. give her the benefit of the doubt.2. If your mother is trying to sabatage you, you stil should take the high road. Thank her for the chocolates, regift them and move on. As a commenter on the other site said, your mother probably has some good qualities, try to focus on those.
Comment: #2
Posted by: nanchan
Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:03 AM
LW1--Uh, you bring the box of chocolates to your work and put it in the break room. When you mother asks you if you enjoyed them, you say "no mom, I'm on a diet, don't you remember?" Then you change the subject to something simple like Gin Rummy because obviously your mother's mental state has been affected by the menopause. Once you begin treating your mother like the feeble-minded child she's acting like, then my guess is she'll change her tune.

LW2--"I always let the "greater" achievements of others (particularly my friends) make me doubt myself." Let me tell you a secret. In fifteen years, few will remember or care one whit about anything you or your friends "accomplished" in high school. Ditto for college. In a hundred years, people will barely remember you existed. Honestly, high school is really nothing but a fleeting moment in the grand scheme of life and it's only due to the self-esteem movement perpetrated by the media and today's overindulgent copter parents who insist every child is a winner, every child is a gifted genius, every child is super special that all you children believe that the rest of the world is waiting with baited breath for your arrival. Chances are neither you nor your friends are going to be the next Da Vinci, Albert Einstein or even Mickey Mantle. Most of you will go to college, most will get menial jobs, less than half will marry, most will have kids, many will get divorced, some will get married again, all will retire and then die. My advice to you is to pay no attention to what your friends are doing because in the long-run, none of it really matters. Focus on doing what makes you happy, and don't bend to others' expectations because life is short and only if you're truly passionate will anything you do make a notable difference.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Chris
Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:42 AM
As Margo pointed out, your mother is an angry, hostile, sabotaging witch with a capital B. She does listen all right, hears every word in fact, and then uses it against you. You will not change her, and any attempt to confront her nasty behaviour will only result in denial PLUS more hostility. Three ways to deal:
1. Don't give her ammunition - stop telling her what you do.
2. Stay away from her a much as possible.
3. Ignore what she says and does. Go to a therapist if need be to learn how to detach yourself emotionally.

Why do you seem to have such low self-esteem? This is what you need to get at. What Margo and Laura said.

Comment: #4
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:28 AM
Chris - right on - on both! I'm not sure how many high school kids are capable of processing this message, but the sooner the better. I've noticed that most thin girls think they can be super-models, guys who play football think they're going to play pro, kids who like to draw (it's all anima now) think they're going to be famous graphic artists, and kids who have heard the sound of applause and been in the spotlight for five minutes think they're going to be successful actors. But as you pointed out, and what I try to tell them is - learn as much as you can about whatever you're passionate about. But be sure you have a job that pays the rent.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:33 AM
Re: Maggie Lawrence
Don't sweat the small stuff AND it is all small stuff. All my high school friends went to college. I sort of envied them but I joined the Air Force and traveled to places they probably will never see. I had a great time. They went to college at 18 and I waited until I was 45. I appreciated college a lot more and got so much more out of it. I earned every good grade; didn't have to stay up late to cram; and maintained a 3.8 GPA out of a possible 4.0. You can be different and still appreciate your life. If everyone were the same, it would be very boring. Don't let others' accomplishments overshadow your goals. You will be great in your own life. Hang in there.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Kathy Ramsett
Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:22 AM
Re: Maggie Lawrence

I'm REALLY glad you weren't one of my daughter's teachers (or one of mine). WE had teachers who told us to reach for our dreams. What a negative message you had in your post.....

I agree that people have to learn to pay the rent, etc. But reaching for your dreams is an American (constitutional) RIGHT! Maybe you are, like Lise, Canadian, and don't get that part of us, but in the US we love people who reach for their dreams and achieve them.

You sound like someone who had someone who squashed your dreams early on. That's too bad. I hope you don't pass that negativity on to your children/grandchildren... sometimes it take people time to figure out what their dreams are, and even if they don't know everything possible about what they are reaching FOR, sometimes, that's what sets them apart from THE PACK and makes them unique.

I wish you a happy Saturday!
Comment: #7
Posted by: nanchan
Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:36 AM
Yeah. Cuz only america has dreams and aspirations. Only Americans understand ambition.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Jpp
Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:03 AM
Re: Jpp

I think you misunderstood my statement. If you could get out of the "pack" mentality long enough to read the rest of my post, you'd get it. Here's what I said:

"But reaching for your dreams is an American (constitutional) RIGHT!". And it IS. For Americans it is a part of our Constitution. I don't know about Canada.

So I can't speak for any other country than my own. The US. And yes. It is a part of our constitution: the right to the pursuit of happiness, or reaching for your dreams.

Hope YOU have a nice day as well!

Comment: #9
Posted by: nanchan
Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:57 AM
Vroom vroom!!!!!
Comment: #10
Posted by: nanchan
Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:59 AM
@ nanchan

Maggie and I aren't being negative. We're simply being realistic.

"I agree that people have to learn to pay the rent, etc. But reaching for your dreams is an American (constitutional) RIGHT!"

Really?!? You must have a different copy of the Constitution than the one I've read. Here's a simple fact for you to ponder. In every game ever devised, there is a clear winner and a clear loser. The same is true in the games of life. It is statistically impossible for EVERYONE to be a winner or be special for that matter. Go to Wikipedia and read up on something called the Normal distribution. Only in American culture is everyone a winner. You don't think perpetuating this gross falsehood is doing more harm than good to our youth? I'm fairly certain this is why so many people are on antidepressants these days. After being told their entire lives by everyone, including influential adults (teachers and parents primarily) that they're special, extraordinarily, a winner many people are crushed when they come the stark realization that in the real world, they're simply ordinary. I don't think it's negative at all to teach to a child's strengths and passion and forget about lying to them that in spite of mediocre talent, they can become doctors, actors, models or professional athletes. Yes, we should urge our youth to reach for the top, but we should also explain that statistically, only a few will actually get there and that it's perfectly okay.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Chris
Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:01 PM
Gee nanchan, nice Saturday to you, too! Did you miss the part where I said I always tell them to learn as much as they can about whatever they're passionate about? Did you confuse that with the fact that teenagers are capable of a reality check now and then whether or not they have adults willing to give it to them? Some of the most miserable kids I saw were the ones who had been pumped and primed to think how "special" they were only to find out that they were just about as special as 80% of the rest. It does NOT mean that I as a teacher or a parent didn't value individuals or encourage them to know themselves well enough to find out what they were good at. It means I refused to lie to them - and you know what? It was the brighter kids, the ones who actually might make it in the world, who appreciated that message. As one said to me about the touchy-feely-happy-world teachers "It's like they think we're stupid."

So you can be glad I wasn't one of your or your kids' teachers and I don't care. Why? Because plenty of kids I did have still come to visit me at home, e-mail me from college, and one is a good friend 16 years after he graduated. And yes, I am in the U.S. where there's a difference between a "right to happiness" and a "right to pursue happiness." I encourage the pursuit, but I will not lie to them.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:23 PM
Re: nanchan it is great to "reach for your dreams." But reaching isn't the same as accomplishing, and the only dreams that one can actually reach are the ones that a person has the skill or ability to accomplish. to think that anything is possible because we wish it so sets people up for failure and disappointment. It is important to reach, it is important to dream...if you don't dream it, then it can't happen...but that dream has to be looked at with a great dose of reality, and a realization that there are many good outcomes that can come from a person's passions. A person great at drawing may not ever sell their art work, but may become a museum curator, or a teacher, or an appraiser...a person who loves sports may not make it in the major leagues, but might e a scout, a couch, a trainer,...etc. Success does not automatically come because we dream, and success can be so narrowly defined as to make it impossible to achieve. We do our kids a disservice by teaching them everything is possible. It isn't. But good outcomes can still be accomplished.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Kria
Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:35 PM
Chris was maybe too negative in his post, especially for a teenager to understand. But I do agree with his statement about how the LW feels probably being a result of the "every child is a winner" mentality and actions of the last 25 years or so. Hard to believe it's been that long, but I remember it really starting about the time my nephews started school.

Every kid received a trophy is sports just for participating, (No doubt in other areas too, but I am familiar with sports because of my nephews). They were all "winners". Well, actually, they weren't, and they should have been taught that, and taught to lose gracefully.

How exactly are they expected to respond to not getting a job offer for every interview? Only ONE person gets hired. They are not always going to be the best or the brightest, and they should have been taught that from little on.
Comment: #14
Posted by: C Meier
Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:48 PM
Re: nanchan

You are so tiring.

Comment: #15
Posted by: Jpp
Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:43 PM
Re LW#1
I'd use it to my advantage. Need something new? Tell your mom how much you hate them. Want to try a new hobby? Tell Mom your husband is interested in it, but it seems like a waste of time to you. Kids need new shoes? Tell Mom you hate the new style the kids want.
Make this year the best Christmas ever, just by telling Mom exactly what gifts you don't want!
Comment: #16
Posted by: KJ
Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:04 PM
Re: Maggie Lawrence

Thank you for your reply.

I still think your initial post was just about the most demoralizing I've read here in a LONG time.

Here is what you said and how I respond:

"I've noticed that most thin girls think they can be super-models" - WHAT? I don't think most girls in high school have that type of high opinion of themselves AT ALL! Case in point: the LW. She is FILLED with insecurity. If this girl came up to you and said "Mrs. Lawrence, I think I can be a model" would you say "Oh dear. No, honey. You should learn ALL YOU CAN about the modeling business. So many girls don't make it. Better to concentrate on finding a REAL job" Nice. First of all, you've killed her self esteem, and second of all you've told her her ambitions to be a model are kind of unrealistic and third of all you dissed the modeling profession altogether.

"... guys who play football think they're going to play pro" - Again, no. Every kid who plays ball at ALL knows the chances are slim to go pro. BUT they will never get there, and indeed will give up if Mrs. Lawrence, that paragon of reality, tells them "Oh dear. No, honey. You should learn ALL YOU CAN about the pro sports business. You could well have an accident at any time. That's IF your lucky enough to even make the team. Don't bother your time with it, best to concentrate on finding a REAL job." If they don't shoot for the top, they will never know. And how bad is it for them to shoot for that pro contract? It teaches them the value of competition, how to be a team player, pride in their school. all negatives?

" who like to draw (it's all anima now) think they're going to be famous graphic artist)" - What type of school did/do you work in? My daughter IS a teenager and yes, she is an amime (ANIME: it's a Japanese word) artist and author and guess what? so are her friends. and guess what? Because of this tiny little thing called the internet, she has a worldwide following of her characters. She is also in COLLEGE on scholarships. Most of the kids that she hangs out with that are ANIME followers are also in college. That's because that particular sub-culture values different things than many other kids: all the kids in her anime club were also computer experts (oh, now there's no market for computer geeks, right?) and some of them had developed and published computer games before they graduated from high school. My own daughter has an internship set up for this summer at an extremely prestigious company and why? Because they found her characters online, loved her following and want her to work for them this summer to help them develop products..... yeah, that time was wasted encouraging her to develop those graphic artist and writing skills!

".. and kids who have heard the sound of applause and been in the spotlight for five minutes think they're going to be successful actor". this one bugs me too, although I have to admit it has a bit more validity. However, Any kid who works on his acting skills also develops the ability to PRESENT IDEAS effectively. Do you know I have worked with brilliant executives who were laughed off of stages in high school, and now CANNOT get in front of large groups (unless we push them out there, and sometimes they need a shot of vodka to do that). Drama teaches many valuable skills.

I don't think it's a teacher's job to teach "reality". I have one sister who was told by her guidance counselor that she shouldn't even bother to go to college. The guidance counselor told her (and consequently all the rest of our family) that it was MORE IMPORTANT to learn a trade (ok, what did she think we would learn in college?). She told my sister that she wasn't smart enough to go to college and that she should think perhaps of going to secretarial school so she could support herself.

My sister went on to graduate from college magna cum laude, then to an Ivy League school for her masters, and finally went to law school on a full scholarship. Two years ago, she became the first woman judge in her county.

Thank goodness she didn't listen to that guidance counselor, Mrs. Lawrence. and think of all those kids, with fragile dreams who maybe gave up after talking to that moronic woman.

PS: By the time I got to that guidance counselor (she must have really had it in for our family!), she had me enrolled in all remedial classes my sophomore year of high school. I took a look at my schedule and thought, what is going ON? I had tested college level in all subjects the previous year so knew something was wrong. I went to her and she told me "Private school kids aren't as smart or as advanced as public school kids" (I had jus transferred from a private school). I asked to use her phone. ONE CALL to my father was enough. He picked me up, my first day of high school, and I sat in his office while he worked it out for me. My schedule was changed the next day, and I was given another guidance counselor. The woman retired a few years after I left school thank goodness.

Confidential to Jpp: maybe you need a nap then, sweetie. Sleep well!
Comment: #17
Posted by: nanchan
Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:51 PM
Re: C Meier and kria

I see your points as well. Truthfully, I think the concept of taking the competition out of the equation is totally wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong AND completely "un-American". When you give kids a trophy just for showing up, you aren't teaching them the right lesson. And the mentality is one of the reasons why we as a nation are now struggling in a global economy. We have become a nation of entitlement and yes, I agree that it starts when you reward a child even when they aren't at standard.

And ultimately, really, it does tie in to my previous post. When we have real competition in this country, it brings out the best performers. And sometimes that does mean broken hearts. But and here it comes.....

The competition ITSELF teaches that lesson. Not some naysayer teacher. It is the ACT of competition that teaches that lesson.

You both are right, disappointment is out there for our children. Maybe if we were to go back to the old system of having to try out for the team (and the thrill of waiting for the results, the agony when you didn't make it, the joy of making it) and learning, not everybody can make the team BUT EVERYONE CAN TRY... maybe we would be a more competitive country now.

Side not; entitlement doesn't stop when you finish your education. Right now, we have labor unions (true story! look it up!) who are going to give two child molestors in CAPENSIONS even though these sick pervs have been abusing children for years just because they belong to the unions. What? Sick what people think they are "entitled" to.........
Comment: #18
Posted by: nanchan
Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:15 PM
nanchan, your imaginary scenario of what transpires between my students and me is entertaining but not accurate. And there's a big difference between kids who have been brainwashed into thinking they are special to the world as opposed to special to their friends and family.

I have NEVER told a student not to pursue something that they wanted to do. What I have tried to point them to is the kind of training they would need right down to the mental attitude it requires. If you can't take rejection, then acting isn't for you - but as I have told dozens of my drama students, you can ALWAYS do SOMETHING in theatre, even if it's just community theatre - because if all they want is applause, they're not really interested in acting. And if they really are interested in acting, then they need all the training they can get.

As for modeling, I've had short, chubby girls tell me they were going to be models. And they firmly believe this because they talked Mama into buying a package of "model training." And I WILL tell them to beware of scams and of course they know all about it and it's not a scam, blah, blah, blah - and a few months later when they thought they'd be picked for a photo shoot, they don't want to talk about it.

So glad all the boys playing sports that you know understand the reality of how few actually go to the pros. Every high school champ we ever had who went to college on a sports scholarship riding high vanished into oblivion - but I guarantee that's not what that boy imagined for himself. And I always tell them "some DO make it and maybe you can be one of them - just understand what you're going into."

The kids who really know themselves in high school and really know what they want to do are the rare and lucky ones - but they're also the ones that don't need the pushing and encouragement, you can't keep them away from the thing they love. Others are late bloomers - and I've told some kids that, too, the ones that don't know what their future will be. "Work, travel, grow up, look around" - I tell them all that.

And I'm glad to hear your daughter is an anime international superstar - does she really think that the whole world is interested in her drawings? I'll look for her face on Mt. Rushmore.
Comment: #19
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:14 PM
@Chris, Maggie, Kria, jpp etc

Maggie, you weren't being negative, you described reality to a T - at least the kind of reality I saw plenty of throughout two degrees in music, one of them in performance. And in fact, the ones who succeed are not necessarily the most talented ones. The saying (in music, theatre, creative writing, graphic arts, modelling, whatever) is that it's 10% talent, 90% work. There is an element of dogged determination, but also (essential) of minimal luck. And then there's attitude - all the "beautiful talents" (dixit Joseph Rouleau) I saw bite the dust noisily had a big problem there.

Nanchan knows perfectly well what Maggie meant, she just lurks in the sideline waiting for an excuse to jump on someone. Notice she always makes it look like she's being misconstrued when someone calls her bluff (jpp), and ends her attack posts with "have a wonderful whatever"?

Nanchan - You just CAN'T prevent yourself from dragging my name into any little snide remark, can you? Dig dig dig dig dig dig dig dig dig. I'm not even gonna address that close-to-racist slur on what Canadians care about - jpp took care of it well enough for what it's worth. Careful that vroom-vroom bullying cart of yours doesn't run out of road
to ride on. There's a lot more I could tell you but... (yawn).

P.S.: The Japanese "anime" is itself a French word and originally comes from French "animation"... just saying.
Comment: #20
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:24 PM
#1 Be thankful you still have your mother I lost mine when I was in my early 20's and would be glad to have any contact w/her.
Comment: #21
Posted by: Joy
Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:14 PM
Re: Maggie Lawrence

Nice of you to attack my daughter.

And you AGAIN just proved my point. Too bad you are so filled with negativity. I really really hope you are no longer teaching with that amount of hate towards children. MAN!

Lovely Sunday to you, sweet Maggie.
Comment: #22
Posted by: nanchan
Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:07 PM
Re: nanchan

I tried. Didn't work. I awoke to find you were still a bore. And a boor.

Have a nice weekend!

Comment: #23
Posted by: Jpp
Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:36 PM
Oh, nanchan. *sigh* Today's thread will stand as just the latest of many examples of you being either deliberately deceptive or utterly delusional about your contributions, and about who the *truly* negative person on the board is.

For you to completely misread Maggie, insultingly respond to her based on your misreading, ignore the attempts to point out how you were misreading her, and still continue on berating people... and at the same time somehow trying to act like you're the victim instead of the bully... it's really an astonishing feat of cognitive dissonance.

Not a single person here agreed that you interpreted Maggie accurately. But rather than take a step back and consider that maybe *you* misinterpreted the situation and reacted too strongly based on your misinterpretation (which any healthy well-adjusted adult would do), you'd rather ratchet up the negativity and someone try to convince people that this is just people "ganging up" on you. As if you had no responsibility at all for the reaction to your own words!

nanchan, the true answer is a lot more simple than that: you misread Maggie, unfairly castigated her based on that misinterpretation, and in the adult world you owe her an apology.

And there's nothing wrong with making a mistake, we're all human. The problem comes when instead of acknowledging a miscommunication or error, you double-down on that error and make the situation worse.

As well, closing such a negative comment with "I wish you a happy Saturday" is just so obviously insincere and snarky that it undermines your credibility further.

nanchan, do you understand the concept of "self-fulfilling prophecy"?
Comment: #24
Posted by: Mike H
Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:52 PM
@Maggie, although I typically fall on the "glass half full" side of things, I understood the intent behind your original message and cannot for the life of me see anything at all wrong or unhelpful with being encouraging and adding a dose of reality and preparation as well.

Life throws us many curveballs along the way; preparing kids for those curveballs only makes them more likely to succeed, not less.
Comment: #25
Posted by: Mike H
Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:00 PM
Thanks Mike, Lise, and others for actually reading what I wrote. And I stand corrected. I used to think nanchan was a fairly reasonable (if slightly obsessed), stable contributor to this forum, but alas.......
Comment: #26
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:49 AM
I have such a mother!

She knows I constantly watch my weight and is forever sending me ''goodies'' to eat. What I do (tho it has not stopped her yet) is take them to work and put them out for everyone. Then, I send a note to Mom saying, ''
Thanks for the goodies. As I am on a diet, I took them to work for everyone to share and they really enjoyed them. They say thanks, too.''
Comment: #27
Posted by: Rivkah
Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:29 AM
Nanchan, I cannot see how you got those scenarios from Maggie Lawrence's post. I just can't.

And the snark about Canadians and (yet, again) Lise, was just gratuitous. As is the false "have a nice day!"-- which fools no one and only serves to underscore the vitriol.

You often give thoughtful, well-reasoned advice to the column's letter-writers, I've noticed, much of which I often agreed with. I've found your life experiences and perspective there interesting and educational.

But your choice to post increasingly far-fetched rants (and they are rants) and accusations in response to BTL comments by an ever-widening group of posters (Lise, Sharnee, Mike H., Maggie Lawrence --apologies to anyone I've missed) hurts your reputation here far more than those of the people you attack. And you are repeatedly throwing that first punch, however disingenuously, then crying "bullies" when people respond.

It's a sad game to watch.
Comment: #28
Posted by: hedgehog
Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:02 AM
Take the gift to work for sharing and share less with Mom. One day she'll wake up and ask why you're so secretive and you can explain in a low-key way that she undermines your efforts. People don't change you can only change your response. I had to say to my mother " Don't send bad news while I'm away." She used my SIL the last time.This time I told her I won't be taking my phone or computer with me. Incidently I'm not leaving my hotel number where SIL can access it. I can't get back early and the last time it wrecked 2 days trying to get in touch. She is of a generation that believes bad news has to be instantly shared.She also has a friend that pushes sweets. I finally told the woman that people don't need unwanted pounds so don't ask again. I hated to be rude but enough is enough.
Comment: #29
Posted by: retired
Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:43 AM
"BUT, it's not like that for everyone. I have friends who have mothers who are open sabateurs (is that a word? I mean mothers who want to sabatage their successa or happiness)." - nanchan

No, "sabateurs" is not a word. However, "saboteurs", is. Since you found it necessary to rip Maggie a new one over "anime", I thought that I'd point out that your spelling and grammar sucks compared to hers.

I thought Maggie had some very good points about kids having unreasonable dreams and aspirations - your response was childish, insulting, and insulted the country I live in. Maggie and I don't get along, but at least she writes well, and doesn't resort to ill-written rants attacking other countries based on irrational hatred of other posters.

And what exactly makes you think ANY of us BTL give a hoot about the dubious accomplishments of your kids?

Go suck an egg.
Comment: #30
Posted by: Barbara B.
Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:37 PM
Re: Barbara B. ~~~ Bitey Fish likes you. <:-))))>-<
Comment: #31
Posted by: Piranha in Pajamas
Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:08 PM
Barbara B, I think we could get along NOW. Peace?
Comment: #32
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:01 PM
One more thought, on teachers, reality, and students:

"She told my sister that she wasn't smart enough to go to college and that she should think perhaps of going to secretarial school so she could support herself."
My best friend's son is very bright, but saw no point in applying himself in high school. Not until the guidance counselor called him in junior year, and started asking him about tech schools. The kid had always assumed he'd go to college, even though his parents, who were at wits' end, had repeatedly warned he was severely limiting his options.

He came hom, stung,e and said to his mom, in astonishment, "That counselor thinks I'm not college material!" His mom said, "Well, that's what we've been trying to tell you. Based on your grades -- and that's the major factor in how you're judged by colleges -- you're not."

Kid got on the Dean's List for the remainder of his school career, got into college, won a few awards and graduated.
Comment: #33
Posted by: hedgehog
Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:11 PM
@ Bitey Fish - I think you're a good fish, Bitey, albeit a hungry one.

@ Maggie - I would like nothing better than peace between us, Maggie. Please accept my apologies for the bad stuff I've said in the past.
Comment: #34
Posted by: Barbara B.
Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:35 PM
Wow Barbara, you are truly awesome. I'm sorry I misjudged you.
Comment: #35
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:56 AM
Awwww Barbara, Maggie, and Bitey Fish.... group hug!!! Well on second thought, bitey... maybe we will hug and love you from a distance?
Comment: #36
Posted by: sharnee
Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:01 AM
As an adult who lives in the real world, let me say thank you for explaining to the children that you teach the true way things work here. As a manager, it is astounding how many young graduates have no concept of what is needed to succeed due to the years of "pc self-esteem garbage" they have been fed by their parents and other adult authority figures in their learning years. Then they get here and are astonished to find that there are consequences, sometimes serious ones, for failure. Please keep explaining the truth to them, despite the protests of being too negative that are given by parents and others.

Comment: #37
Posted by: AWC
Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:34 AM
Re: sharnee ~~ Bitey Fish is sad that you don't want to give Bitey a nice big hug up close.
Comment: #38
Posted by: Piranha in Pajamas
Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:59 PM
@AWC - My sons are only 7 and they know that all of our actions have consequences - good consequences = rewards and bad consequences = trouble. I tell them that if they want a happy life, they need to work hard so that the can earn good consequences.
Comment: #39
Posted by: sharnee
Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:04 PM
@Bitey Fish - I will be happy to hug you if you promise that I will leave the embrace in exactly the condition I was in when I entered the embrace.
Comment: #40
Posted by: sharnee
Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:06 PM
WOW! The BTL is almost always more interesting than the actual articles, but I have to say this one takes the cake!
@nanchan -- it was only days after I wrote on the previous Margo column about someone I used to know who was always calling other people bullies when, in fact, she was the real bully herself. Chris mistakenly believed I was referring to you. For the record, I wasn't. I was referring to a girl I knew in high school (I've actually added this to the previous thread, but probably no one has seen it, since I added it so late). But I could understand why Chris and others thought I was referring to you. I find that I often agree with you, and that even when I don't agree with you, I can understand your perspective, and I truly believe that you often make very thoughtful and useful contributions to this forum. But I also find that you sometimes just start lashing out, and then when people respond to you -- even when they respond in perfectly polite, thoughtful ways, as opposed to just automatically lashing right back at you -- it just escalates out of control. It honestly troubles me, because when you are "good" you are very, very good, and I hate to see that get bogged down in personal attacks and negativity. I hope that, instead of feeling like I have just "piled on" with the rest of the "mean girls" (with apologies to the men), you will understand that I really am trying to reach out to you.
Comment: #41
Posted by: Lisa
Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:28 AM
@Maggie -- You've had enough people write in to say they got what you were saying, but I just want to add that I did, too. My first job out of college took me to a small town in Ohio that I had never heard of before, where everyone knew everyone else, and I was very much the interloper. High school football was king -- because there wasn't anything else going on in the town. If you were on the varsity football team, you were the bomb, the cat's meow, the best thing since sliced bread. As such, you were not required to learn other skills -- like reading, or being kind. Instead, you were worshipped like a god. I wrote an editorial in which I suggested that we weren't doing any of these kids any favors, as very few of them were going to get college scholarships, much less go on to play for the NFL -- and that even if they DID get scholarships and go pro, it was still in their best interest to be well educated (or at least be literate, for God's sake!). I received death threats when it was published. I am not kidding. My experience was EXTREME, obviously, but I am a big believer that yes, we should encourage kids to dream big and to reach for those dreams -- but that they must also learn the not-so-dreamy stuff, too. Not only because of the fact that not everyone makes it big, but because even if you DO make it big, you'll always be stunted of heart, soul and intellect if you haven't also pushed yourself to be a well-rounded person. Even the people who make it big have to be able to support themselves while they are working their way to the top.
Comment: #42
Posted by: Lisa
Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:39 AM
LW1 -- your letter sounded very familiar. Seems like a similar letter recently ran, possibly on the Annies, about a mother who kept giving her daughter gifts that the daughter had expressly said she didn't want or need. It's hard to say whether your mother just isn't listening to you, or whether this is some passive-aggressive way of trying to sabotage you. I'm with those who said you can't change your mother, you can only change your response to her. Whether this means expecting her to do the opposite of what you want and therefore misleading her into doing what you want (I'd be fascinated to hear what happens if you tell her you've decided to go off the diet -- will she send you rice cakes and Slim Fast?), or whether it means letting it go while, literally letting it go (in other words, thank her for the candy, and then give it to someone else), or whether it means just quietly, kindly making your point, ("Oh -- these are great, Mom! Of course, I can't eat them, since I'm on that diet I told you about, but my neighbor will LOVE them -- thanks!"). It's almost impossible NOT to take it personally and to heart when your mother does these things, since it does seem to suggest that she either doesn't listen to you or wants you to fail, neither of which can really be looked at as a good thing. I also agree with others who suggest that you keep some of the more important things to yourself so that you can protect yourself from her bizarre responses to you trying to improve yourself. The less she knows, the less she can sabotage. I'm sorry that's the best I can offer you.
Comment: #43
Posted by: Lisa
Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:50 AM
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