Agony aunt Sandi, the Jewish News and Channel 4 Jewish mum of the yearoffers a shoulder you can rely on each week!

With Sandi Firth

Dear Sandi,

My children, aged 10 and 11, bought me a re- ally unusual (or so I thought) necklace for my 40th birthday – with the help of my husband. We subsequently went to a barmitzvah and I proudly wore my new adornment for the evening party.

Imagine my feelings when a close friend came over and told me: “We are wearing the same necklace!” My children couldn’t believe it, as they thought it was such a unique gift.

But then my friend asked me to ask my children if they would mind taking the necklace back to the shop to change it for something else! She said she bought her necklace first and we couldn’t possibly wear the same one!

What shall I do? I really don’t want to upset the children, but maybe she has a point.

Tanya

 

Dear Tanya,

Excuse me while my jaw gets back into place! You say this lady is a close friend.

I would stay as far away as possible. Apart from the fact that your children obviously care enough about you to choose something special, why would you even contemplate changing this fabulous gift?

If your friend is so bothered, let her change hers. Wear it with pride and keep your chin up so your necklace can be seen by everyone![divider]

Dear Sandi,

My nine-year-old daughter has been behaving very strangely. She used to be so bubbly and energetic and never stopped talking. Now she has become really quiet and spends a lot of time in her bedroom and when I have put my face to her door – as you do – I can’t hear a thing.

Before all this happened, she would be happily chatting away to her friends – yes she has her own phone! My main worry is that she seems to have lost her appetite, eats little and quickly and then leaves the table in a hurry. We just can’t get a word out of her and are desperately worried.

Sally

 

Dear Sally,

Oy! I’m really sad to read your letter. At nine, your daughter should be giggling her way through the day and enjoying her childhood and I do under- stand why you’re so worried.

First of all, I guess if she has her own phone she probably has a ghastly iPod too and perhaps she’s listening to that in her bedroom? My biggest worry for you though is what seems to be an eating problem. I’m very aware that even at your daughter’s ten- der age, being skinny is a priority. Is she reading lots of magazines?

If you’re not sure, I would suggest you have a close look in her bedroom – being absorbed in reading something is another reason why she may be so quiet in there. I’m not asking you to invade her privacy, but taking a look at what might be oc- cupying her is a start.

I’d also suggest that you follow her – but discreetly – when she leaves the table in the hurried fashion you mention. Sometimes we, as parents, have to put ourselves in a certain position to pro- tect our children, whether they like it or not. If there is still no result, then I would suggest you make an appointment with your GP.

Before you start walking on eggshells, how about just the two of you having a chat? Show her some photos of you when you were her age and the books you liked and so on. We’re in a different world now, but I’m hoping that you’ll be able to bring her back to earth slowly but surely.[divider]

Dear Sandi,

I’ve been married for a year now and recently my mother-in-law asked if she could have a key to our house “just in case”, as she lives a few streets away and we have a key to hers.

The problem is that she now walks straight into our house at any time she wishes without ringing the bell or knocking on the door! We feel our privacy is totally invaded and neither of us knows what to do as we don’t want to upset her. She usually shouts “Hello, it’s me” when she comes in but I work from home, so am more often in than out. My father-in-law left her two years ago, so with us living just round the corner it’s given her a new lease of life.

On top of all that, I’m four-months pregnant and know she will want to be involved with the baby, but we just don’t know how to handle this situation.

Rosemary

 

Dear Rosemary,

Let’s start from the top and work our way down. It would be good to speak to your husband about this – after he’s eaten, of course! Always!
And check that you both agree on how to handle this particular matter. I think the only way forward is to be completely honest with your mother-in-law and say you don’t want her to feel uncomfortable if she should walk into something she may not want to see or hear – you can include your work in this of course.

That way, you can ask her to keep the key for emergencies only, as it’s great to know someone you trust has a key.

Then you can tell her how much you’re all looking forward to the new baby and you want her to be involved, but in future could she ring before she’s coming, so she can make sure you’re not too busy to spend time with her? You can’t really change the locks and hopefully she wouldn’t climb through the windows – would she?!

I think you’ll find this easy to sort and remember the key to your mum-in-law’s heart will be through your new baby – not the keyhole!