Dear Lucy: I am 16 years old and I live at home with my parents and little sister who is 12. My Auntie reads your article and told me to write to you. I used to have ADD and took Ritalin. I got sick of it and don't take it any more. Don't have a lot of crazy, stupid, impulse stuff anymore but there is one thing that I can't seem to fix. It drives me and my parents nuts. I am simply not a responsible person. Most of the time what I get fussed about is not being responsible. I get mad at them and mad at myself. Any tips?
– Mr. Irresponsible
Dear Precious One: I refuse to address you as "Irresponsible." And I urge you to never, ever talk ugly to yourself with negative labels. The greatest power we each have is the ability to choose how we will think. And the most important thoughts are the ones we think about ourselves!
Dear Lucy: I divorced my husband ten years ago. We have one child and now he is seventeen. His father has never paid child support and I have never done anything about it because I can usually handle everything myself. However, when I really need his help and ask, he knows how to push my buttons, make me mad and I walk away angry and empty handed. He has never done anything for our son willingly and makes me feel guilty for asking by telling me about the last time he gave me money. Now, my son doesn't even want to ask for anything. Senior year is coming up and I can really use the help. How can I get different results?
Dear Buttons: Our emotions can work for or against us. Could it be that one of the buttons he pushes is the one called pride and unforgiveness? These two states can make us very emotional.
First there is the pride that made you think you didn't need or want his help so you decided not to legally enforce his responsibility to provide support for his child. Second, when we wallow in unforgiveness, it's hard to be civil. And here is something about forgiveness that we need to remember. To forgive a person does not mean that we let them go free. It means that we let ourselves go free. We become free enough to think rationally and without cloudy emotions.