Family Relationships

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Amy Dickinson Responds to NourishingRelationships' Readers

Plenty of nourishing relationships' readers and sandwiched boomers tuned in yesterday to take part in our interview with Amy Dickinson. We had a spirited discussion with Amy, author of The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them. Our thanks to Amy for being so generous with her time.

You can still read all of the responses, in full, through yesterday's "comments" link at the bottom of the post. Here's a sampling.

Several Readers had concerns relating to their teenagers:

"I too have a daughter and to get a vote of approval like you did from Emily would shock the hell out of me. She’s only 15 so what you say gives me hope."

"I'm raising two teenage sons alone and sometimes I get frustrated and discouraged. What gives you the strength besides the women in your life?"

"I loved how you get to the heart of the emotion in your book. Your daughter has been in college for a couple of years now, I think - mine will be leaving in a few months. A few words of wisdom?"

Amy's thoughtful replies:

I struggle for words of wisdom about letting a child go when its time to go to college, except to say that if everybody has done their job and the relationship is good and solid, I think it’s easier to let go. I miss my girl but, well, she's happy and as a parent that has always been one of my goals. And we write letters back and forth, which has been nice for us.

I guess I get my strength, if you could call it that, from my faith and my sense of humor, from friends, and from the occasional bottle of wine and box of kleenex. Sometimes, like Scarlett O'Hara, you just have to tear down the drapes and make yourself a new dress. Enlist your sons in the effort to help them raise themselves. And make them help you with the dishes.

Another reader, a nurse asks:

"You write about such serious subjects in your advice column, like the woman today whose classmate attempted to rape her. Do you ever find it hard to leave your work at the office? I'm a critical care nurse and it's often hard for me to clear my head and relax."

Amy here:

It is very hard to leave some of these painful topics behind at the end of the day --especially when a kid writes in with a serious problem. But I'm reminded of something Ann Landers' former editor told me. Ann's words of wisdom on this were something like, "I try to remember that these people's problems aren't my problems. I've got my own problems." That helped. And as a nurse of course you know that in order to do your job, you need to be rested and as non-stressed as possible. Thank you for the important work you do.

Others made comments that reflect Amy's experience as well as their own:

"Having so many wonderful and supportive women around you is a gift. Not all women have that, but for those who don't, creating their own circle is so important. It took me too many years to realize that.

"The energy of women together is always a wonder to behold. How great for you and your daughter to have had that support. I have not read your book therefore ask if your daughter was exposed to any positive male influences as well?"

"Now that your book has been published, is there anything that you would change? Did you omit something that you would include if you were submitting your work for publishing today?"

"I found the interview enlightening and affirming of the wisdom of caring, supportive women. Common sense, sincere interest and the perfect balance of honesty, sensitivity and tact are your hallmarks, Amy. Thank you for sharing that each day in your column. I look forward to reading your book!"

Amy here:

Answering the question about whether I would change anything in my book -- honestly I don't think I would. It's not perfect, but mainly I feel like I said what I set out to say. I feel it's honest and heartfelt, quirky and charming. I still like it when I read it, so that's probably a good sign. Thanks for asking.

Amy mentioned this morning that she's working on another book and appreciates the support of readers -- "this is one of those books that women are passing around and sharing with one another, and that makes me so proud and happy!" Click on the title above to go directly to Amy's website.

If you want more of these sort of events, please add your comments here or email us at And visit our website by clicking on the first link on the left below, "Her Mentor Center."

You can sign up for our newsletter, Stepping Stones, by clicking on the link below marked "FREE Newsletter." We publish a monthly newsletter that focuses on helpful strategies for coping with personal and family issues. Our May newsletter gave tips on how mothers-in-law can improve their relationships and learn from President Obama's MIL. Our June Stepping Stones highlighted how Susan Boyle, an unlikely role model, can be a guide to an emphasis on inner beauty and nourishing oneself.

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