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Vickie Iovine / Girlfriends' Guide to Family

Truly Terrible 2-Year-Old Threatens Sisters' Relationship

May 02, 1999|VICKIE IOVINE

Dear Vicki: I can't stand visiting my sister because her 2-year-old daughter, Sally, is a monster.

I don't have any kids yet, but I can assure you I would never allow the behavior Sarah tolerates--like biting, kicking and running away when called.

Why is my sister such a wimp?


Dear Auntie: Toddlers have been known to terrify some pretty tough parents (myself included), but their beastly behavior should never be allowed to damage other family relationships.

The best thing you can do is create your own relationship with Sally that's independent of Sarah. Just because Sarah finds a swift kick in the knee acceptable doesn't mean you should, and it's up to you to let Sally know by reacting to such displays with a stern look and a firm "No!" Even a toddler is smart enough to recognize who's a sucker and who's not.

Second, you must bite your tongue to the point of drawing blood before you criticize Sarah's parenting. If she's like most of us hapless mommies, her reflex will be to kill you to protect her pup.

Last but not least, try to lighten up on Sarah. Mothering is much harder than it looks, and parents need all the moral support they can get. She's not a wimp--she's just finding her way through the mommy maze. Here's the good news: When you have your own children, you can show her what professional parenting looks like.


Dear Vicki: Mother's Day is coming soon and I am already feeling depressed. Even though this is my third year as a mother, I'll bet money that no one is planning anything special for me. My son is too young, my husband is clueless, and my mother and mother-in-law will be waiting for me to make a big fuss over them. Will it always be this way?


Dear Mommy: Yes, Mother's Day will always be a disappointment for you until you stand up and claim it for yourself. Trust me on this, Girlfriend, no one is going to notice your needs without a little advertising on your part.

Design your ideal celebration and share the plan with your immediate family. If you only hint around, it's no one's fault but your own if you find yourself cooking omelets for one generation and pouring Cheerios for another.

In my house, I really commit to my holiday by making the brunch reservations myself, reminding my husband how a bit of jewelry speaks a thousand words, and providing lots of paper, crayons and sequins to my kids for their gift creations. This may be a Hallmark holiday, but in my house it's my little tribute to me.



Dear Vicki: After carrying around 20 extra pounds of "baby weight" until my kids started preschool, I finally joined a gym. I have lost the weight and I love how I feel, but I'm a little freaked out by a gym crush I've developed. A young trainer seems to be as much of an attraction to me as the treadmill. Is this OK?


Dear Buffed: Do you think Tae-Bo would be so huge if Billy Blanks looked like Elmer Fudd? You're certainly not the first woman to find that a sexy little fantasy keeps you on the StairMaster even longer than Aretha's greatest hits.

So does this mean I endorse your trainer fixation? No, not really. I find that it's better to keep the flirting more generalized. Marriage is a tough commitment, and it's even harder when you allow strangers in.

I know I sound harsh, but 18 years into my own relationship, it's pretty clear to me that any energy given to a crush beyond an extra fluff of the hair detracts from the altar at which you've chosen to worship--your own family.


Vicki Iovine is the harried author of the "Girlfriends' Guide," a columnist for Child magazine and mother of four. Every Sunday, she'll answer questions about family, parenting and relationships. Write to her at Girlfriends, Southern California Living, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, or e-mail Please include your name and phone number. Questions cannot be answered individually, and no telephone calls, please.


Your Turn

For another take on those perennial family questions--answered by parents themselves--see Parental Guidance in Monday's Southern California Living.

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