DEAR AMY: My husband and I have a 6-year-old daughter.
Looking down the road, I'm wondering, how do we help her to develop a sense of self-respect and self-esteem?
In a society where thin is everything, being popular is a matter of selling yourself out and sex is happening at an early age, what message should we give her?
I'm not in the Dark Ages but not sure how to give our daughter the armor she needs to go forth and be her own person.
— A Mom and Dad
DEAR MOM AND DAD: The message you should always convey to your daughter is that she is an individual with the strength of character to make good choices, and that she should face the consequences with integrity when she doesn't.
While she is young, she will look to you as her strongest influence. You should provide her with ample "teachable moments" where she can see herself as intelligent, capable and strong. You should encourage her to be kind, generous, tolerant and involved in the world.
You should limit her television, movie and Internet exposure, and encourage her to read with you and then talk about what she has read.
You should also become media literate and encourage your daughter to discuss concepts or influences she is exposed to. There are wonderful examples of women who have used their brains, talent and character to change the world — and you should make sure your daughter knows about these people, their contributions and life stories.
Your girl will be the hero of her own story. If she feels good about who she is and is secure in her attachment to her parents and extended family, she is less likely to worry too much about how to please other people.
DEAR AMY: I recently heard that my ex-friend's grandmother died.
I was shocked and felt I should express to her and her family how sorry I am to hear the news, but something is keeping me from telling her how I feel. I don't want to send a message that all is forgiven.
We had a major falling-out earlier this year while I was planning my wedding. Our 20-year friendship was not doing so well already, and so I decided to ask her to be in my wedding in hopes that we could become closer.
Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. I thought making her my bridesmaid would make it better, but it didn't. She dropped out of my wedding and ended the relationship over e-mail, which really hurt my feelings.
Even though I have no regrets and I feel our wedding ended up exactly how it was supposed to be, I still wish she could have been there because we have been through so many things together — good and bad.
I just want to make sure that if I send her a card expressing my sympathy that she will know that I am being sincere and not trying to use my expression of sympathy to fix our friendship.
I know when the time is right and we are ready, we'll talk again.
— Wish To Reconnect
DEAR WISH: Your ex-friend's loss is not about you, your wedding or your friendship.
Your simple expression of sympathy should be focused on memories (if any) of the person who died, along with thoughts and good wishes toward those who are grieving. The recipient will decide how to interpret your expression. She will make a choice about whether to respond.
From what you say about her, she doesn't sound interested in maintaining a friendship with you, and based on the way she has treated you, I wonder why you miss her so much.
DEAR AMY: I am fascinated by the question of how to deal with people who are always late. In my family, we have a family member who is always late. Eventually, we got sick of it and just proceeded with our plans, whether or not the person had arrived.
I can't help but notice that when the plans are personally important to her, she manages to arrive on time.
— Faithful Reader
DEAR READER: I agree that a person should not hold a group hostage to her own poor timing. Your family's technique for dealing with this is effective; I give you credit for moving on with your plans.
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