By Rachel Stein | rachels83@gmail.com

Two parents and one child ideally want to do the right thing and ultimately want to be close as a family should be, yet their plans and interests conflict. How can they work together toward a peaceful resolution?

Here is one more voice to guide them on their journey.

Dear Barry, Eileen and Jeff,

Am I the only one who doesn’t see this as a problem?

I am 61 years old and grew up as an obedient daughter who went to college, married a nice Jewish boy and basically did everything that was expected of me by my parents. My husband had the same upbringing.

Rachel Stein

Rachel Stein

Out of my own three children, I have a son whom we seldom see as he has chosen to live in Europe, another son who has battled a pill addiction, and a daughter who is gay. Believe it or not, we are a close, happy family who enjoys our time together, and my husband and I only wish for true happiness for our children, with health and good fortune.

If only our problem was that I had a child who wanted a gap year in Israel.

I don’t think there is anything I can say to Jeff if the biggest problem that his parents have ever had is that they are disappointed in Jeff’s authentic self. It doesn’t matter if Jeff’s father, Barry, was the subject of disappointment when he decided to become an accountant rather than a lawyer. Again, there are many of us parents out there who would love to have these kinds of disappointments.

In summary, Jeff should go forward with his plans and not ask their permission but declare his intent with as much respect as he can muster. I pray that it goes well for him and that he is not guilted into being someone he is not.

Sincerely,

Sandra

Will the Best Candidate Please Step Forward?

Looking around my new office, I feel a surge of pride and excitement well up inside. The peach-colored walls, comfortable chairs and bubbling aquarium definitely provide a soothing ambience. My dream of serving my community as a pediatrician is about to be realized, and I pray to succeed in promoting health and healing for my young patients.

But one fundamental step remains before I can open my doors. I have two excellent nurses on staff but still need a secretary.

Two interviews with potential candidates are on my schedule today, and I hope that one of the applicants will become my new right hand.

At precisely 9 o’clock, a respectable middle-aged matron arrives for her appointment.

“Good morning,” I greet her, already impressed by the aura of dignity surrounding her. Competence, efficiency and predictability seem to ooze out of her.

“Thank you for coming. I see from your résumé that you come with a wealth of experience.”

Chuckling, Lori gives me a wide smile as she slides into the chair in front of my desk.

“I’ve been a secretary since I finished college,” she glibly informs me, “so I can handle just about anything that comes up in an office. I’ve seen it all, the times when everything seems calm and quiet and other times when total bedlam erupts. At this point, not much fazes me, and I do love working with families, especially children.”

“I see.” I lean back in my black leather chair, drumming my desk with my fingers while trying to conjure up a probing question.

“Are you comfortable with Word, Excel and PowerPoint?” I can see she has the wherewithal to provide good service, but I am not ready to give up on high tech in exchange for maturity. All of our documentation and records will be computerized, and my secretary needs to be fluent in the various Office applications.

“I certainly am,” Lori asserts. “I took several courses over the years as technology zoomed forward. I didn’t want to be left behind.”

About 20 minutes later I conclude our session, assuring Lori that I will be in touch with her soon.

I have a good feeling about her. Maybe I should just hire her. Then the bell rings, and the next applicant appears.

“Good morning,” I begin, meeting Shelly’s earnest eyes. “Thank you for coming.”

Shelly is Lori’s complete antitheses. In her early 20s, her effervescent personality bubbles forth with her every word.

“Thank you for meeting with me, Dr. Schwartz. I’ve heard great things about you!”

Flattery will get you everywhere, I muse, flashing a small smile her way.

“Can you tell me about your previous experience with office work?” I begin, employing my most authoritative, professional voice.

“I worked in a lawyer’s office for several summers while finishing school,” Shelly explains, “and I adore children. Computers and I get along really well, too. Any time my friends have a computer glitch, they have me on speed dial. I know I don’t have a ton of work experience, but I’m a quick learner and a great people person.”

And a charmer, I silently add. Several more questions conclude our talk, and I assure Shelly that I will have an answer in a few days.

What to do? I swivel in my chair, sip my lukewarm coffee, and think. We now have two competent applicants and one stymied doctor.

A dignified matron who has been around the block is a definite asset. She will certainly need a higher starting salary based on her experience. I can already envision the professional quality of our office with Lori on board.

But there is something appealing about Shelly’s freshness, her eagerness to please, her malleability — and, of course, starting a new practice, the expenses are formidable, so a smaller expenditure has redeeming value, as well.

Can any of you help me make this important decision? Which applicant should I hire?

Dear Readers,

Your invaluable feedback is greatly appreciated. Kindly respond by Dec. 15 to have your opinions included in the next column. Wishing all of you a happy Chanukah!