Advice column by Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC.
Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC offers advice on family planning and parenting, LGBT issues, disability issues, education and work issues, relationships, ethics and “unusual” social issues. Send questions to Tim for future columns through his website.
I’m a 20s college girl, sophomore and living the dorm life. I had a new roomie this year that is nice and started out the second semester very diligently. She really applied herself for the first month, which was inspiring. She even did all the research and finished a final paper for the psychology class we’re in together. This assignment was brutal, and she pulled a few all-nighters just to finish it. I read it and the thing is brilliant. Then suddenly, last week she was dumped by her boyfriend, found out she is pregnant, quit school and moved back home and bestowed me this grand paper with the assurance that she’ll never use it and expects nothing in return. I’m taking 15 hours and barely surviving, and she knows how hard I’m working and wants to help. She left her paper with me, and for some reason I’m hesitant. Why? — Paper Mooning
Hi Paper Mooning,
You received this gift, no strings attached, which will give you some respite during an otherwise grueling semester. That is a very kind gesture on her part; to think of you when she is trying to survive herself. After all her hard work and creativity was applied to this project that could easily be shelved for a future return to higher education, she has handed it over to you in an attempt to finalize her decision and perhaps even to convince herself that all hope is lost. You now have an Instant A; just add name. If you claim someone else’s work as your own with the true author’s blessing and no one is harmed, is it really plagiarism? Even if you did not have to look over your shoulder for years to come, you have to look in the mirror. Some folks could do that, no problem! Other folks set higher ethical standards for themselves, and feel conflicted enough to actually write to me for advice. That is the kind of trustworthy person who would do something as crazy as calling the ex-roomie, giving the paper back with a thanks-but-no-thanks and well-wishes, and getting back to work on her own intellectual property.
Lady of the Ring
I’m a woman, 40s with an elderly, widowed and healthy mother who lives alone two hours away. I visit her every weekend and pay for an aide to come during the week for a few hours, mostly for transportation since my mother does not drive. I have a very successful but demanding career that I chose instead of marriage and children. My father passed away 20 years ago, but the original, custom engagement ring he gave my mother is her most prized possession. I’m sure it is quite valuable, but I would never part with it anyway. I cannot promise the same for my older brother and sister, two selfish people who have all but abandoned our mother. They have families, but don’t even take the time to call her, much less ever visit. I am sure they don’t even remember Mom’s ring. She wants me to have it now, insisting that I may still be married in an adorable way, and even though I have no use for the ring she has been persistent and now I feel like I would be rude to refuse. If giving me the ring makes her feel better, what is the harm? Do I have to explain anything to my siblings? — Lady of the Ring
Children are entitled to nothing, especially while their parents are still alive! Your mother is apparently of sound mind, and chose to give you a gift; a cherished memento that represents your father’s love for her and is no longer even remembered by her other children. Sometimes a gift is just a gift; receive it humbly and gratefully. No explanation will ever be owed to anyone.
I’m a male college student, 20s, struggling with weight and trying to eat right. But I get frustrated with all the “healthy choices” because they are all so expensive! Seriously, people spend like $10 on a salad and I just cannot afford things like that. I don’t even like cheap food, it’s nasty but bologna, ramen and fast food allow me to buy books and finish my education, so I have to put that first. How do people eat healthy on a budget? — Freshman Five? Try Senior Sixty!
Hi Senior Sixty,
First, exercise does not have to cost a penny. Walking, running, jogging and sports are free. The fees for a gym on campus are probably nominal, and in fact most public gyms have abandoned the pricey, commitment-heavy contracts in favor of a monthly $10 fee and 24-hour access. Maybe you do all that, or a similar fitness regimen, but you did not mention it so there it is for your consideration.
Actually, there are cheap healthy foods without all the preservatives available at the most common of budget supermarkets. They just might not sound appetizing at first, but you can get creative with herbs and spices without adding a single calorie. And never forget moderation. Especially when you are cramming or fighting sleep to finish a project like the paper described in the first letter. We can all relate to mindless or emotional eating. When the fork starts moving the hand, mindfulness can be very helpful for controlling compulsive eating behaviors. The Center for Mindful Eating is a good first step toward becoming more aware of your body and how eating habits affect it.
Editor’s Note: The opinions offered in this blog are the author’s alone. Tim White, and any experts he may consult and/or quote in responses to letters, will never provide medical or psychological advice, diagnoses, treatment, or counseling of any kind. General advice, opinions and suggestions may be offered with no obligation on the part of readers to accept or act upon the content published within this column. Anyone in immediate crisis and/or mental/physical distress should call 911 or related resources of assistance.
Photo by Fotolia/Igor Mojzes