While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On counseling a young adult against getting tattoos:
I met a gentleman with beautiful tattoos. He had a young sister who wanted to get one too; she had a friend who offered to give her one super cheap. She was so excited and wanted to get it right away. This brother’s advice to her was to write what tattoo she wanted on the calendar that very day. If a year from that date she still wanted that same tattoo, he would take her to his wonderful tattoo artist, and he would even pay for it himself. If at any time in that year she changed her mind and wanted a different one, the one-year calendar mark would start again.
I tell that to everyone who has a child who wants a tattoo or is thinking about getting one themselves. It would save a lot of people grief.
Time Will Tell
On navigating a season of intense political disagreement on social media: Here’s what I do: When a post is particularly infuriating or jarring to my views, I “reply” and spill my disapproving, outraged, angry heart, then I delete instead of posting it. This way I can tell the offender off to soothe my wounded sanctimony while still keeping the friend (whom I may like apart from his/her political views). The mental battle whether to post or delete also serves as an exercise in self-discipline and civility for me.
“Friend” in Deed
Just beware of touchy touch screens.
On navigating life with slobs: Set aside a regular time to clean up an offending mess together. It sounds really rudimentary but it works.
Challenge the whole family to clean up a space in just seven minutes. Doesn’t matter if they’re 3, 13 or 43 years old or if the targeted area is the family room or someone’s bedroom – EVERYONE pitches in. Time it for when there’s a fun, motivational deadline around the corner, such as family movie night in 10 minutes.
First, spend a minute or two visually surveying the terrain, identifying the needs as a group, and huddling over how you’ll best team-tackle the mess in order to get the maximum cleaning accomplished in the least amount of time. Then set the buzzer for seven minutes, crank up the music and EVERYONE races to follow the plan. Works like a charm and is fun, too.
I chose seven minutes because it is so random and doesn’t sound like a lot of time to reluctant kids, yet with five of us pitching in, I get the equivalent of 35 minutes of solid housework accomplished. More important, the kids learn to survey a room with a critical eye and to prioritize. And, by having to clean up after others — not a favorite thing for anyone to do — they finally started to realize the impact on others when they don’t clean up after themselves.
If the cleanup job is not accomplished sufficiently in seven minutes, we set the buzzer again, so no one wants to slack off once the buzzer is set.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at washingtonpost.com.