Dear Annie: My husband and I have four young children. Generally, our children are well-behaved; however, sometimes they don’t listen to me or my husband. It is incredibly frustrating for us, and we both lose our patience quickly with them. When this happens, we find that they start playing off one another and revolting against us.
This tends to get us both angry, and we raise our voices to try to keep our children listening and paying attention. As you can imagine, that makes the situation much worse. They tend to get upset about raised voices and worse moods and focus on that.
It feels as if our children are defeating us. I’m writing to ask how we can better control our tempers. I know the situation in our house could be smoother. Do you have any advice for us?
— Desperate in Delaware
Dear Desperate: Stay in the moment, and if they’re acting harmlessly silly, try to be silly with them. Laughter and joy are two qualities that seem more accessible to children than adults. If you and your husband can find more moments of laughter in the chocolate that was just wiped on your sofa, for example, your family will be a lot happier. The fact that you wrote your letter tells me that your children are not defeating you. In fact, they are fortunate to have parents who care and are working to develop patience.
Dear Annie: I’m currently a freshman at a local university with a relatively large population of international students. My college is notoriously difficult, which means most of my time is spent at the library. I don’t mind the work, but I do mind the clouds of smoke that I have to wave away every time I’m leaving or entering the library. Though my campus is mostly smoke-free, there seems to be an unofficial smoking spot right outside the library doors. I’ve tried to be patient about the smoke because it only affects me for a few minutes each day and I understand that smoking is how some people deal with stress. However, I just found out that May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, and I would love to implement something on campus — maybe a health campaign of some kind. But after talking about it with a few friends, they think it could be seen as singling out international students, who tend to be the ones smoking outside. I get that other countries have higher rates of smoking than the United States, and I don’t want this to put blame or shame on certain demographics. Annie, do you have any advice on how to balance overall student health with cultural sensitivity?
— Don’t Want to Cause an International Incident
Dear International Incident: You might ask university administrators whether they could move the smokers’ huddling place a little farther away from the library doors. That way, the students who want to breathe clean air while entering and exiting the library could do so, and the international students who want to smoke together could still congregate, only it would be in an unobtrusive area.