Carolyn Hax: Dad was willing to offer support, even if that meant saying ‘no’

Saturday, 08 July 2017, 08:02:25 PM. A reader offers his kids the same option for getting out of something they don’t want to do.

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

On liberating through boundaries:

When I was 16 and driving, I asked my dad if I could go out with my buddy Jeff for the night. Jeff was a tough, strong-willed troublemaker and I appeared strong but was secretly meek.

After I returned, Dad told me that it was up to me what I did, but if I asked in the future, he would give me a “no” to get out of it. I never did use it, but having that choice gave me confidence, and the comfort in Dad’s trust. I offered the same to my kids at 16.

— Sacramento

carolyn-hax-dad-was-willing-to-offer-support-even-if-that-meant-saying-no photo 1 (Nick Galifianakis/The Washington Post)

On treating childless people as clueless about children:

I am a teacher. I see your kid for 40 minutes a day for 180 days. I see your kid in an environment you don’t. I see your kid when s/he knows you are not there. I work with that kid, not the one you have at home.

I try not to question your parenting because your kid is a separate human being, but I do see things you don’t.

Trust what I tell you in conferences and phone calls.

And please don’t tell me I have no business being a teacher since I don’t have children of my own.

— K.G.

On having one shot at this whole life thing:

I am a mental-health provider, and I have this piece of advice for all those whose lives are not what they want them to be:

For the love of God, quit complaining and do something!

You can’t afford to travel? Get a second job or a weekend job and start saving.

Don’t like the family you were born into? Join a church or a club or an athletic team and create a family of like-minded friends.

Feel that you are stuck and life is passing you by? Make a list of priorities and take the first step toward making No. 1 happen.

In a dead-end job? Train for a better one at the local community college.

No job at all? Volunteer, make crafts to sell, post offers to clean or do yard work at the local grocers.

Spouse drinks too much? Join Al-Anon.

Depressed? Start eating better and walking a mile or two a day.

Not close to your family? Make the first move, call often and build your side of the bridge.

Quit waiting to win the lottery, to fall in love, for a pill to bring you happiness or for miracles to parachute into your life.

Each of us is given a life, a brain and a couple of decades to make a difference on this planet. No one else is responsible to bring happiness to us; it’s each of our responsibilities and what we create out of our time on Earth is up to us. Thanks for letting me sound off!

— S.

Write to Carolyn Hax at Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at

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