Is there any way to control whether you have a girl or a boy? Energetically speaking, that is.

—Wanting a Girl (Brazil)


A baby’s gender is generally determined by genetics, particularly the genes of the baby’s father, although there may be other contributing factors. Too bad this wasn’t known before various women in history were killed for not bearing their husbands a male heir!

However, even men who father five boys, for example, may father a girl on the sixth try.

Energetically, if you want to have a girl, one thing you could try is mocking up (visualizing as a way of manifesting) conceiving and giving birth to a healthy daughter. Keep in mind this may help but is by no means guaranteed. If you end up with a son, love the heck out of him, regardless of whether he fits the picture of what you wanted. Divine gifts come in all different packages. : )

You could also either keep trying for a girl or consider adopting one of the many beautiful girls in the world who need a safe and loving home.



I am 28 and I love my mother and we are more like friendly strangers than mother and daughter. I always wanted more of a warm and fuzzy mom but I know that is never going to happen. Do I have to go through the rigmarole of playing daughter with someone that probably feels obligated to play mom to me?

—Wanting Something More Than This (United States)


It could be that your mother simply feels obliged to be in a mother role to you. It also could be possible that she has love for you in her heart that she can’t express well. Oftentimes, people may be relating in a way they’ve been related to, or perhaps she has been through something that has made her disconnect from her heart.

In any case, I wonder what would happen if you simply validate what is and validate her as someone who shows up (in whatever ways she shows up for you).

Perhaps you could also tell her you’d really like to get to know her better and see how she steps up. If she can’t step up as a more loving and maternal and nurturing presence in your life, validate her stepping up in the ways she does, and take this opportunity to learn how to be your own mother—to nurture yourself, to love yourself unconditionally, and to pay attention to what you need. That way, anything else is icing on the cake and you’ve learned a very important lesson—to be there unconditionally for yourself and to love yourself.



My three kids are all in sports at school and are so competitive, even at video games or board games. It’s almost scary. How do I foster more teamwork and less competitiveness among them?

—Mother of the Lords of the Flies


Thank you for this question.

You might want to encourage them to play games that require teamwork instead of game that pit each other against one another. I don’t know how old your kids are so maybe you could google “noncompetitive board games” and see what comes up that is appropriate for your children’s ages and needs. There are also a couple sites, and, that you might want to check out.

You (and your spouse/partner) might also want to play with noncompetitive language and language that isn’t goal oriented. For example, instead of “You are the best goalie ever,” you could say something like, “You really paid attention to all the balls coming in.”

Warm wishes to you! Your kids are lucky.



I am dreading the holidays as my mother-in-law snoops when she is visiting. I know she has gone through our medicine cabinet and my desk as I have caught her rifling through our things, even though she claims she was just looking for aspirin or looking for a pen or whatever. How do I handle this in a way that won’t start World War III?

—Reluctant Hostess (United States)


If you have something incredibly personal and private you don’t want to see, perhaps you might need to invest in a lockbox.

The next time you catch your mother-in-law in the act of snooping, I would address it neutrally, saying something like, “I’m really private and prefer that you not go into our medicine cabinet without asking but please feel free to ask me if you need anything and I will happily get you whatever you need.” If she cannot respect your rules and privacy once you’ve made that clear in a friendly and neutral way, you can always book her a room in a nearby bed and breakfast or spend the holidays at her house or meet at a neutral location like a scenic town halfway between you.



My brother passed away and I sent his widow money, thinking she would need a little help with funeral expenses and bills since he’s no longer in the picture. I’ve noticed she’s wearing new clothes and gets her hair dyed regularly and even had Botox and I think a facelift. I wish I had never given her the money. Can I ask for it back? I am still grieving and she is probably just trying to make herself look good to get a new man if she hasn’t already found one.

—Angry sister (United States)


I suggest you do not ask for the money back. It was a gift and you can’t put conditions on that gift. I understand that you are still grieving and getting that money back will not help your grief. Know that his widow is likely still grieving as well. She might not have spent your financial gift prudently but she might also just be trying to make herself feel better and trying to escape her own pain by shopping or making herself over after the trauma of losing her husband. Grief looks different on everyone.

Remember that, no matter what, you both loved your brother and she probably gave him a lot of joy by being in his life so thank her for that and think about positive things you can do for yourself that will make yourself feel better in a productive way.

Much love.



We have two kids, one in kindergarten and the other in third grade. My husband’s mother is always giving the kids inappropriate gifts—whether it’s toy guns or DVDs with bad language or tons of violence or objectification of women. I have asked her not to give my kids those kinds of gifts but she gets offended, gives me the silent treatment, and then gives the kids those kinds of presents anyway. How do I stop this?

—Fed Up (United States)

Dear FED UP:

It sounds like there is a power struggle going on between you and your mother and you might want to remove yourself from the equation to save yourself the hassle. Have your husband talk to his mother about this and have him explain why the two of you do not want your kids to play with certain kinds of things.

If you both have already asked her to stop giving the kids those kinds of gifts and have explained why and she still insists on giving the kinds of presents she wants to give and not the kind of presents you and your husband want the kids to have, you might want to try one of two options: 1) give her a wish list of toys the kids want that you approve of, or 2) start a new tradition of gifts that the kids themselves will gift to children in need. Then at least if your mother-in-law insists on giving gifts that are not age appropriate, perhaps that rated PG or R movie can instead be gifted to an older teenager, for example. Or you could all start a tradition as a family of giving gifts to those in need from the entire family (including your mother-in-law) on birthdays and holidays rather than having your two children receive gifts.

Enjoy the opportunity to start a wonderful new family tradition.



How do you say goodbye to a loved one that has passed away and gone to the other side? My uncle just died last week and I felt relieved that he doesn’t suffer any longer and I feel happy that he can be with my grandmother now. From where they are, they can do so much actually but I feel sad to see everyone crying. How do we say goodbye and let the soul go back to where it belongs?

—Joe (France)


My heart is with you and your family. I think that your presence and your awareness that his spirit exists even beyond his physical existence must in and of itself be a big help to your relatives. Please continue to shine your light on the truth of spirit being forever while giving yourself and your family members permission to mourn and to continue to release their grief for as long as they need to. Even when we know our loved ones live on in spirit, it is of course sad to not be able to hug them in the same way or pick up the phone and call them.

While everyone is in the process of healing from their loss, perhaps you all could spend time sharing stories of what made your uncle a unique man and share stories of the times they had with him that were very special to each person.

If possible, perhaps you all could do something to honor his memory in a way that resonates with his values. For example, if the environment was important to him, you could plant a tree in his honor. If he was a strong proponent of education, you could start a small scholarship fund in his name.

I personally love organizations such as Heifer International (, which provides people with gifts that allow them to sustain themselves. If you all wanted, you could come together as a family and make a donation in his name for $120 to buy a goat for a family in need that will sustain them through its milk for many years to come, as just one example.

You may want to try some of these suggestions and then, as a family, release him to the Creator with all of your love and the knowledge that he continues to be well cared for by the One who made him.

I pray for you and your family and send my love and healing wishes.



My ex is still enmeshed with my parents even though we have been broken up for 2 ½ years and no longer talk. I feel like he ingratiates himself with my parents. My parents often tell me how he’s doing and what he is up to. How can I stop this? It’s very annoying.

—Not Grinning and Bearing It (United States)



Since you no longer talk to your ex, is it possible to be happy that your parents have one more person in their lives that loves them? If it annoys you to hear about him, ask your parents to stop mentioning him. If they continue to bring him up, try switching subjects to a topic you’re more excited to talk about whenever his name comes up.

Savor the positive anytime you can. Much love.



My wife of 11 years does not want to go on family vacations with my parents. We have three kids and my grandparents live in a different state. My parents are in their seventies and time is precious and I think we should all make the most of our time together as we both get just two weeks of vacation time per year. How can I make her want to come along?

—Fed Up (United States)



You don’t mention why your wife doesn’t want to go on the family vacations. Have you asked her and tried to communicate with each other and figure out what would work best for her and everyone else?

If she is simply exhausted and needs time to herself, maybe she could stay home this year and let your parents enjoy more time with the kids and you.

If she gets stressed or doesn’t get along with your parents, make a plan that would minimize the stress or that will give her time off on her own even if she decides to come along.

That being said, you can’t make her want to come along per se but you can look at what she needs and wants and see if there’s a way to make sure she gets it should she go along or, if not, give her some alone time and maybe she’ll be able to join you all wholeheartedly next time.

“Happy wife, happy life,” the saying goes. Sometimes we all just need a little down time so we’re able to show up 100% for the things we need to do.



What I would like advice on and what’s annoying me about myself is that I tend to validate my mother on stupid things she says to avoid conflict and keep the peace. As conflict with her takes weeks of bitterness on her side to then live through and turn around.

How can I come more into my power yet not validate every single small, stupid comment she makes without incurring her illogical wrath??

—V.J. (Ireland)



Congratulations on at looking at this difficult situation with consciousness, awareness, and a proactive approach. Congratulations also on being aware of your part in the situation and your ability to make a change to improve the relationship with your mother.

You ask a great question. As difficult as it can sometimes be, the smoothest way through the situation is to not let yourself get sucked into the old pattern of toxic dynamics and old roles and outworn patterns of relating with one another. Because this dynamic has developed and been reinforced over decades, it will likely take time to retrain yourself (and your mother) to behave in a healthier manner than in the past.

Often people who treat others poorly are themselves unhappy and often feel powerless. Keep this in mind as you interact with her.

Practice being in the energy of love, particularly before and while you are with her. When she is especially trying, in your heart, thank her for your existence and for making you the person you are today. Keep this in your heart as you respond to her and try to repeat things back to her neutrally so that she feels heard without you having to resist or defend yourself against invalidating comments or energies.

For example, when she says, “I’m always having to clean up after everyone,” you can respond by saying, “I hear you saying you feel you always have to clean up after everyone.” If there are ways you can help, you can—for example, help a little more around the house. If it’s an unfounded complaint, simply repeat what she said in as neutral a manner as possible, and go about your business without engaging in the discussion other than that. Keep doing this as best as you can. Over time, if you keep staying neutral while repeating back to her what she says, it will gradually start to break the old toxic cycles as you move towards being able to move out when possible.

Keep heart, my friend.



My mother-in-law recently passed away.  Now that she’s gone, my husband’s aunts have really reached out to us, and have expressed more love and caring towards me than I’ve ever experienced in all the years my husband and I have been married.

While it feels nice to experience this, I also worry that my parents will get left out even more.  My husband’s family has never really included my parents/family as part of their family, and more and more it seems my husband’s family has gotten priority for visits, etc, due to my husband’s parents getting ill, etc. Since we live out of state from both sides of our families, and they live on opposite sides of the country, our vacations are often spent traveling to see one of our families.

My parents are not getting any younger, and have started having age-related health issues of their own as well.  I would like to see them and help them more.  My kids want to see them more too, but I am concerned that my husband’s family will try to see us even more now that my mother-in-law is gone.

My husband is understandably very upset about losing his mom. But I would like us to see my parents as much as we can while we still can. My parents don’t have a lot of family nearby, and most of my mom’s family is out of the country. I want to spend more time with them. I guess I’m feeling extra protective of them since my husband’s family doesn’t have any interest in having a relationship/connection to my parents/family. My question is, how do I ensure that my kids and I can at least spend more time with them, while not creating some conflict or competing dynamic in our family?

–Concerned Daughter (England)


For you and your kids to spend more time with your parents, create a space to do so. If you want, also create a space for the whole family (your husband’s aunts and your parents and brother as well as your husband and kids) to bond and get closer as a family. Perhaps you could start by group emailing everyone in the family (your parents and brother, your kids if they are old enough, your husband, and your husband’s aunts) and sharing how much it means to you to have them in your life and to recently have been able to be able to better get to know your aunt-in-laws and to connect with them more deeply). You could also mention something (if this resonates for you) about the death of your mother-in-law making you realize how important family is and how important it is to enjoy quality time together with all of the family that you love. You might want to mention you’ve been thinking of a away to do this with the logistical difficulties of having family on both coasts. Then you could propose all of you getting together on an annual basis. (Of course, those who can afford it can still visit you on their own if your schedules allow.)

Since the two branches of your family live on each side of the coast, perhaps you could find somewhere in the middle of the country—maybe Kansas or Missouri or even Colorado or New Mexico. Costs for a family vacation are often more affordable than on the coasts and you can find places with family cabins or retreat cabins or a group of clustered yurts that would be affordable, fun, and also easy enough to navigate for older folk who may have more difficulty getting around.

Put it out there and see what happens. Even if not everyone wants to participate, do it for you and your immediate family and whomever else can join you. It might even be the beginning of a tradition you will continue with your family and their future partners and your future grandkids. Wishing for you your heart’s desire.



My mother in-law recently passed away.  It was a shock to many of us, as we thought we’d at least get to see her once more during the holidays.  I’ve been struggling with dealing with my sadness and grief over the loss, while also trying to come to terms with the fact that I had to put up with her not-so-kind words about my kids and me, her passive-aggressiveness, and just feeling like she never fully liked/embraced me or my side of the family as a part of hers.  I am a woman of color, and my husband’s family is white, so my kids and I visibly stand out when we’re with them.

My in-laws always treated my parents like they were beneath them, or just didn’t make any efforts to get to know them, communicate with them, etc.  It has been a source of pain and sadness for me over the years, especially since my parents/family have always made efforts to reach out, communicate or connect with them, treating them like they were family.  Maybe it’s a cultural difference, but in my family, when someone gets married, that person’s spouse and his/her family become a part of our family as well.  I have seen how my in-laws made more of an effort and were just more interested in connecting with my husband’s sister’s in-laws/family when she got married, so I don’t think it’s entirely cultural.

I’m grateful for what she gave us, and for her positive qualities. I want my kids to love their grandma, and of course remember good things about her, but I also want to someday share a more complete and honest picture of her when they are older.  Is that inappropriate or wrong?   I don’t want to dishonor her memory but I also don’t feel right going along with all the glorifying of her as this perfect saint.

I haven’t even talked to my husband about all the things she has said and done throughout the years.  I think he would not want to hear it anyway, particularly now that she’s gone.

What would you recommend I do to deal with my conflicting emotions around all this?

–Confused and Torn (Canada)


Great job at looking at a challenging situation of grieving for and honoring a woman who perhaps didn’t know how to love like you do.

First of all, keep in mind that. no matter what else she did or didn’t do, she created your husband and therefore your children, none of whom would have existed in their exact form without her.

Intuitively, I feel that there are two key issues in how your mother treated you and your family: 1) conscious and subconscious racism and 2) perfectionistic expectations towards her son’s wife. Some mothers have a very difficult time with any woman (even of the same ethnic background) living up to what she believes her son deserves. This combined with a conscious (and not) value placed on men over women (including her own value of herself) combined to create this very challenging situation.

I agree with your assessment that it might not be the best idea to talk to your husband about this now that she is gone. I think it’s important to give yourself an honest channel to communicate this, however. Perhaps you might want to journal about it for yourself or to talk about it with a friend (preferably that had no connection to your mother-in-law) in a way that you can release speak freely and honestly about your feelings (the grief of losing her as well as the grief you experienced in relating with her) and experiences you had with her so you don’t hold all the grief and the energy inside of you.

As far as sharing the whole story with your kids, it’s probably not necessary. Maybe you could just share the positive stories with them and always bring it back to the fact that because she gave birth to your husband, you were able to meet him and to then have your kids eventually. If they ask specific questions when they’re older, or even have questions on how to deal with their own mother-in-law, perhaps at that point, you could generally mention some of your experiences in a way that is constructive and can assist them in working through similar issues.

Also, take good care of yourself and let yourself really feel all of the conflicting feelings coming up for you and let them go to make more space for more joy in your life and validation of all that you’ve learned through this relationship.

You also might want to use this experience as practice living the truth of the necessity of loving and honoring yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks of you or how they treat you. Do this and it will help your children to learn the same by watching you.



My dad is going in for major surgery. He acts like it’s no big deal but I want to be as helpful as I can. Should I bring it up and try to talk to him about it or would that scare him or make him worry more?

–Concerned Son (United States)


Your father is lucky to have you as a son. Sometimes when people are afraid, they try to minimize their worry both so they don’t have to deal with their own fear and as a way to be brave for their loved ones. I think this is especially true for many parents because they feel they always have to be in charge and strong for their kids, no matter what is going on. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work so well because not only are they avoiding dealing with their own anxiety (which can make surgery even more stressful) but they are depriving their loved ones a chance to talk and be real with them and to support them.

Keeping these things in mind, in deciding how to handle this with your father, I often look intuitively at what someone can handle. Let your father take the lead. If you ask him an open-ended question like “How are you feeling about your upcoming surgery?” and he says “Fine. Not a problem,” just give him space to act like it’s not a big deal to him and tell him that you love him and that you’re there for him if he needs anything, keeping things light.

If, on the other hand, he answers that he’s a little nervous, you can take it from there, using your intuition to gauge how far to take the conversation while giving him space to feel whatever he’s feeling and letting him know you love him.

Blessings to you and your family.



I am visiting my husband’s very large extroverted family for a whole week from Christmas to New Year for the first time. I’m very introverted and sometimes feel exhausted being with people constantly and am nervous about how to handle this. Do you have any suggestions?



First of all, congratulations on being aware of what you’re comfortable with and how much you can handle. That is the most important step in dealing with a lot of people over an extended period of time as an introvert.

Give yourself complete permission to take time for yourself on your own. Go for a walk, go do an errand, hang out at the library, take a nap, or (if you want), go to the kitchen and do some dishes while everyone else is watching a game or television or playing a game. Do what you want when you need to and do so without apology.

Because your husband’s family is extroverted, they might not understand your need for space or might be worried for you that you’re alone, but if you are having fun and keep reassuring them, you will train them to understand you truly are happy doing your own thing and hiding away on your own every once in a while. And it’s good you’re setting the tone now during your first Christmas together since hopefully you will have many more to come.

Also, create an energy bubble around you, giving yourself as much space as you need. You may also want to imagine energetic boundary roses around all sides of you, allowing the energetic roses to absorb anyone else’s energy and as a reminder for yourself to have your own energy for you.

Wishing you a peaceful holiday.



I am meeting my boyfriend’s parents for the first time for Hanukah. He wants them to meet me before he proposes and I am very nervous. How do I make a good impression on them?

–Nervous (United States)


First, keep in mind that his parents might be just as nervous as you are.

Second, be yourself. Be confident in yourself and think more about the wonderful opportunity to get to know the people that created and raised your boyfriend and enjoy each moment. If you get nervous or feel awkward, reset your time to fun and exploration and hopefully the fun and exploratory mood will be contagious. But no matter how anyone else is feeling, you will be able to have fun and learn interesting things!


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