Lean on someone else

Joey loves language mash-ups like “chillax.”

I am worried about my nephew because my sister is overly dependent on him. My brother-in-law died when my nephew was an infant, and my sister has always leaned on her son as if he was her partner, not her child. He’s a senior in high school and is applying for colleges. She is laying a guilt trip on him about leaving her alone. My husband and I have been encouraging him to apply to out-of-state colleges so he can extricate himself from his mother and start to live life. My sister is acting like I have betrayed her. I think I am doing what is right for my nephew. How can I help my sister see that she is the problem here?

Rent the film 35 Rhums and invite your sister over to watch it with you. I saw it last summer during the Sacramento French Film Festival and thought it should be required viewing for single parents of adolescents. The film captured the relationship of a father and his young adult daughter, revealing the beauty of their easy, emotional intimacy as well as the creepy, nearly incestuous aspects of it. The father is well aware of the need to push his daughter out of the nest. His clarity might inspire your sister to see herself in a new light. If nothing else, seeing the film together might encourage an honest conversation between you and your sister. And that would be a gift to you both, wouldn’t it?

In the meantime, continue to motivate your nephew to apply to universities that are at least a three-hour drive from where he grew up. Many parents resist the idea that their son or daughter is mature enough to live far from home. But residing beyond the parental radar may be the medicine needed for some teens to mature into young adults. It’s also time to teach your nephew that guilt is produced when we fear we have done something wrong. So his mother’s guilt may result from the worry that if she was a better mother, her son would not want to leave her. Your nephew might worry that a good son would not allow his mother to live alone. Both fears are irrational, of course. So is your belief that your sister is ruining your nephew’s life. When you surrender that judgment, your compassion will be free and you can help your family make healthier decisions.

There’s this girl I really like, but I am wondering whether she really likes me. When I text her she responds right away and is really funny. But when I call her, it’s like she is another person entirely. She barely answers my questions. I have been trying to ask her out, but I have been waiting to see if she is going to warm up. What do you think?

My Magic 8-Ball says, “Don’t count on it.” Some people are wittier in writing than in conversation. Others are more comfortable with electronics than human beings. Either way, it’s clear that this woman’s approach to emotional intimacy leaves you uncertain about whether she cares for you. If you feel like this now, your experience probably won’t change much if you begin dating. Remember, spending quality time together and communicating with ease are both essential to a good relationship. It’s time to excavate your personal archaeology and discover why you are so interested in someone who fluctuates between being present and distant. You may find that you are repeating a relationship pattern that you observed between your parents or one that you experienced with a parent. Understanding yourself will liberate you. Then you can find a partner capable of maintaining a strong emotional connection.

Meditation of the Week

I was on a morning run with my dog when intuition told me to avoid the sidewalk near a gardener with a leaf blower and, instead, to run in the street. But the gardener saw us and turned off his equipment so we continued on the sidewalk. Just as we passed him, he turned the blower back on. My dog spooked and ran into me. I tumbled and face-planted in the concrete. Do you hear your intuition?