November 28, 2023
My friend told me he accompanied his son, who's the same age.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter is independent, even though she is relatively young. She is a rising sophomore in college.

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When it was time for her to go back to school — a plane ride away — I had to be out of town. My husband helped her get herself and her things to the airport.

She was fine, but I was talking to a friend who told me that he escorted his son of the same age on a plane to his school to help him unpack and get organized. I felt like a terrible mom after hearing this.

Was I wrong to let my daughter fend for herself?

— You Can Do It

DEAR YOU CAN DO IT: Comparing yourself with others is a surefire way to create unnecessary doubt and confusion in your life.

You don’t know what that other student required in order to get settled into his school year or any other reasons your friend felt the need to get on that plane with him.

Focus on your own child. How did your daughter manage? Did she feel supported? Did she manage to get her things in order in her dorm room or apartment? If she has lingering issues or needs, tend to them with her.

Helping your daughter learn to be independent is one of the most important gifts you can give her. Even if she had some bumps along the way in travel or setup, that’s OK. She is learning. That is good.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been married for two years. My husband and I live in Europe, and our families live in Africa and America.

While we love the fact that we can live abroad during our younger years, it is hard to manage building our lives together and seeing family regularly. Time and money become major issues.

So far, we have had to go separately to visit them. I know that’s not ideal, but we can’t yet afford to do two big trips for both of us annually.

My in-laws seem to think that I don’t want to visit them. They have said to my husband that I don’t like them, and that’s why I haven’t gone to Africa to see them. That is not true.

How do I show my interest in getting closer to his family, even though I can’t travel there right now?

— Making an Effort

DEAR MAKING AN EFFORT: Let technology support you. If your in-laws use smartphones, you can use any number of technologies to help you make video calls where you talk with them and you can see each other. WhatsApp is free and has a video feature. Similarly, FaceTime allows you to video chat if you have an iPhone. I’m sure there are many others.

Schedule regular calls — once per month, or more frequently if you think you can be consistent. Offer what you can manage. This will show your commitment and respect for them. Tell them stories about your life together and ask them about theirs. Build a natural rapport with them. This should help foster closeness.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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