DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My mother is driving me insane. I'm 28 and dyed my hair dark purple. She hates it. She thinks it makes me unattractive and never fails to mention it every time she sees me. It's my choice and it's just Manic Panic, which washes out after a few months. And believe me, I've gotten nothing but compliments. I told her: "Everyone loves my hair," and she shot me down by saying, "Well, everyone's an idiot."
I'm a student, I've been in university working toward an education degree, so it's not like I'm a loser who's doing nothing or going nowhere in my life. I've always been into tattoos, piercings and hair colours. She thinks purple doesn't say, "Respectable 28-year-old woman." I beg to differ. I had a university professor who had many colours in her hair and I thought she was fabulous. I don't lecture my mother on her lack of style or how she can't wear anything that doesn't look moth-eaten. She's had the same 1980s hairstyle for years. She also says, "You want to meet a nice guy, but no guy will like you when you have ugly hair." She's trying to bully me into changing, but it's not going to work. Can you please referee this argument? -- Refusing to Conform, Winnipeg
Dear Refusing: Tell your mom the mother-child situation is finished. As her 28-year-old new friend, you're going to tell her honestly what you think of her appearance top to bottom -- hair, makeup and clothing -- and help boost her into the new century. Say you hope she gives you that opportunity soon. Then smile and sail out of the house and let her think before she speaks. Since you're 28 and moving into friendship mode with your mother, whether she likes it or not, invite her out to lunch at a very inexpensive, fun restaurant -- your treat. It's time to tip the scales to an even balance: you stop acting like a teenager and she stops being a bully.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I miss my dad so much at Christmas. I know his phone number and call him on special occasions, but all he says is Merry Christmas or happy birthday and, "How are you doing?" Then he goes back to his new family and young kids. My dad cheated on my mother, who was and is always drunk, so I didn't blame him much. What can I do? I am 16 and have no grudges towards my father or his new wife, who seems nice enough. I can drive now and could get myself to their house, if they'd like me over. -- Missing My Dad at Christmas, Winnipeg
Dear Missing Dad: Sporadic phone calls aren't working, but adults can be tricked. The route back to seeing dad, who feels guilty and awkward, is through developing a friendship with his new wife and kids. That could mean giving fun but inexpensive gifts to the little kids and bringing them over early. The thing is to have happy times with the new wife and kids, so they all want to invite you over. Wear an elf hat and bring the kids antler head bands. Seeing more of dad in the near future is the bonus, not the focus of this campaign. Start by sending an old-fashioned paper Christmas card this week to the whole family in the mail with a little letter on the blank inside page, saying you would like to get to know your new siblings and stepmom. Tell them you are going to drop in one day soon with some little gifts for the kids, and just do it. It would be best if dad wasn't there one of those times so you can relate directly to your stepmom. If it doesn't look like the mom is going to invite you in, say politely, "Can I come in for a minute to use the washroom?" No one can refuse that request. Then you hang around, compliment her and chat for a bit. You can win her over! She probably just thinks you don't like her.
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