Ask Amy: List-making mom needs to look in the mirror

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • June 26, 2013 - 1:26 PM

Dear Amy: My daughter just turned 11 and has always had a touch of ADHD.

She is bright, creative and fun, but she often forgets to do her “jobs.” Simple things like brushing teeth or washing her face won’t happen some mornings, even though we have a typed list taped to the bathroom wall that she is supposed to check each day.

I don’t want to micromanage her, but I also need these basic things to get done each day. What should I do?

Amy says: I’m not sure what you mean by “a touch of ADHD.” If you ask me, just about every 11-year-old on the planet would qualify for this vague diagnosis.

My instinct is to focus on you. You say that you need for your daughter to wash her face and brush her teeth each morning. The key to your longer-term solution would be for both of you to realize that she needs to accomplish these things for herself.

You should experiment by taking down the job list you taped to the wall. Unless she is quite impaired, I would say that this is the essence of micromanagement.

If you (and she) are wedded to the list system, then let her make her own — in her own handwriting and decorated any way she wants.

Are there things on your list that she automatically does? They needn’t be included. What are the things she knows she needs to do but tends to forget (or skip)? She should post reminders for herself.

You need to take a hard look in the bathroom mirror. How awful would it be for you if your daughter left the house one morning without washing her face or brushing her teeth? If you could be brave enough to let this happen, your girl might realize that it doesn’t feel so great to have fuzzy teeth all day.

Having the freedom to make these little choices is how people learn to make larger choices. Unless you plan to follow your daughter through life with a list on a clipboard, I suggest it’s time for her to get started.

My favorite gift for girls her age is “The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls, Revised Edition,” by Valorie Schaefer and Josee Masse (2012, American Girl). This wonderful book is a “how to” guide for girls about taking care of their changing bodies. It should be on your daughter’s bedside table.

Two rehearsal dinners

Dear Amy: My sons are both getting married this year.

My husband and I have offered to pay for the rehearsal dinners and also contribute toward the reception. I have some dietary problems, and there is a local restaurant that has selections I can have — it can also cater to everyone else’s needs.

One of my sons feels we should consider other restaurants because he and his betrothed want their dinner to be different from his brother’s.

I do understand that, but since we offered to pay for the dinner and make all of the arrangements, shouldn’t he go along with how we feel?

Amy says: As the hosts of the rehearsal dinner, you and your husband are in the driver’s seat. But in this case, isn’t your son being reasonable when he indicates he does not want an exact copy of his brother’s recent rehearsal dinner? (I think he is.)

And shouldn’t you and your husband make an attempt to cater to his very reasonable request to at least consider other restaurants?

I think you should. You are the hosts, but it is his one and only wedding.

Enjoy the company

Dear Amy: Why the harsh response about the friend who can’t cook? I have suffered through dinners of raw chicken, raw pineapple upside-down cake and various burned dishes from similar good friends.

I say eat a little ahead of time and offer to bring something. Let them know that you enjoy salads. Just eat the salad without the homemade dressing to “save calories.” You can’t avoid the invitations but you can enjoy the company and a little wine.

Amy says: The man who wrote said that even the dog refused scraps of this friend’s cooking. I thought this was such an unkind and “unrefined” comment that I, in turn, judged him harshly. Many readers agreed with you.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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