While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On not waiting for wealth before becoming philanthropists: Several years ago my cousins and I were drinking wine and talking about what we would do if we won the lottery. We all agreed we would start a charity to provide college scholarships at the high school that has been so much a part of our family history.
After another glass of wine we decided we did not need to win the lottery to fund scholarships. We started researching rules for starting a tax-exempt charity. It took numerous phone calls and several months but we did it. We had a tax number and were a legitimate charity.
We have funded scholarships by garage sales, but our most successful event was a family golf tournament and dinner. We just asked for contributions and the money rolled in. Family members have also made memorial donations to honor a loved one. We have funded nine $1,000 scholarships and have money in the bank for future scholarships. It is so rewarding to read the scholarship applications in the spring and decide on the recipient. Family members gather on scholarship night and one of the cousins presents the scholarship. This is a wonderful family project, and $500 can make a real difference to a struggling student.
Families of modest means can make a difference. Can you imagine the impact we would make if all financially able families would do this?
On dealing with the bad feelings about an ex: Screw being positive! Imagine all the wonderful innovative ways he can die. When my brother divorced his wife I wanted to go stick stiletto heels through her eyeballs. My mom’s best friend was gonna go with me. Little tiny woman, me, big girl, going after this idiot with stiletto heels. Tell me that isn’t a funny picture.
We had fun getting snockered at holidays and dreaming up fun ways to torture her. Watch the Kevin Spacey movie Swimming with Sharks, so innovative, and that is what we dreamed up. The Mob is still active where she lives, I was gonna go put a hit on her. We had so many great ideas…
But it got our anger, our hatred, our frustration out. We NEVER did this around the kids. Or around my brother. Just some fun times getting it out of our systems. There is something to be said about good friends, a bottle of wine and venting.
On being less rigid about the ways relatives can interact with your children: When my sister’s kids were younger, but the oldest two were old enough to be more independent, their uncle would suggest doing things with the two older ones that the other two were not old enough for yet. The parents’ reply was that it was not fair to the younger two for the older two to get that activity with their uncle.
Years later, the older ones are in college and only the youngest is left. Now there are no objections to the uncle and the youngest spending time.
Parents … let your kids spend time with their relatives without requiring that EVERY child be included in EVERY activity. It’s not fair to the relatives, and it’s not fair to the kids.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.