October 29, 2010
My Wish for Us All This Thanksgiving
In these tough times, it can be hard to feel thankful. If you’ve lost a job or your home, you might draw a blank at that moment around the Thanksgiving table when it’s time to choose something to be grateful for.
I’ve been thinking about the American spirit these days—those qualities we believe define us as a people. They include courage, resourcefulness, generosity, resiliency and perseverance. It’s in our DNA to make the best of it in the face of challenge and reach out to help others in the face of need.
This is my wish for everyone this season—that we renew our vow to make it through difficult times we may be facing and find ways to help someone else. I hope you’ll join me in giving thanks for our character as Americans, knowing it will see us through to better times.
I’m a single mother, and I’m struggling to make a good living in this economy. I don’t want to get on public assistance, but things are getting very rough. I have three kids and I’m divorced. I get a small child support check, which doesn’t help out a lot. I need suggestions about how I can save money on things like kids’ clothes, utility bills and food. Those are the things that I’m really have a hard time paying for.
Broke in Brandywine, Maryland
My heart goes out to you. I hope you are able to find better paying work soon. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact government agencies and nonprofits for help. Their mission is to provide a safety net for people who are having a hard time—people just like you.
I would start with the Department of Social Services in Prince George’s County. They have a good website you can visit at www.princegeorgescountymd.gov, or you can give them a call at 301-209-5000. Programs you may qualify for aside from public assistance include Food Stamps, Emergency Food Assistance, Child Care Assistance and Utility Assistance.
You also might want to check out a unique food program called SHARE, based in Hyattsville. They distribute food to anyone at less than half the retail cost, plus a small amount of volunteer time. Contact them at www.sharedc.org or 301-864-3115.
Also in Hyattsville is the Salvation Army. They can be reached at 301-277-6103. This organization can often help with clothing and sometimes supplemental food.
These days it pays to be as frugal and resourceful as possible. Turn off lights when you leave rooms. Turn your heat down a few degrees and consider taking the bus when you can. Reach out to local churches, and each time you talk with someone about accessing services, find out if they have other ideas for you.
Many people need assistance of some kind at one time or another, and many give back when their fortunes improve. You can too.
My daughter will be graduating from college in December and moving back home, because she hasn’t found a job. We get along fairly well, she likes to stay out late and bring large groups over for parties when she visits from college. I think there should be ground rules for the house as she is older now. What would you suggest?
Losing my empty nest in Springfield, VA
Setting some ground rules before your daughter moves home is an excellent idea. It should help the two of you maintain your sanity.
Because you’re in this together, I suggest you set the rules together. Sit down with your daughter, acknowledge that both your lives are going to change and pledge to work together to reach an agreement on what’s best. Talk about what’s important to each of you (concepts like peace of mind, rather than activities like parties) and negotiate compromises.
You love your daughter and you will always worry about her to some extent, no matter how old she is. You might, therefore, want her to have a curfew. She might feel this is unreasonable at her age. Perhaps you could agree that she will generally be home within a certain window of time, or she’ll tell you beforehand or call to update you if there’s a change. Just as she would want you to do if you were out and found yourself delayed until the wee hours, she should do also.
You say your daughter likes to have parties, and you may feel this is too disruptive for you. Maybe you could suggest it’s okay to have two or three friends over once a week or so and only have larger gatherings once in a while. You could find a friend or neighbor to stay with on those nights or even treat yourself to an evening in a nice hotel. You could request that your daughter come up with a cleaning plan also.
Do your best to establish a cooperative tone for the discussion, rather than one of confrontation. You might be surprised how well you can work together to keep each other content and comfortable at home.