Good advice has withstood test of time: Don't reveal too much


Q: I want you to compare your advice with that given by Lady Montagu to her daughter, way back in the 1700s.

From your recent column:

"As much as I advocate honesty and openness, both must be tempered with good judgment and, yes, an air of mystery. That does not equate with duplicity or falseness, rather an aura of restraint. Make your first meeting a dialogue. Make your conversation personal, but not too revealing. Like a neckline that is indiscreet, baring your soul at the wrong time is a major social blunder."

From Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, in a letter to her daughter in the year 1755:

"Clarissa [a character in a novel] follows the maxim of declaring all she thinks to all the people she sees, without reflecting that in this mortal state of imperfection, fig leaves are as necessary for our minds as for our bodies, and 'tis as indecent to show all we think as show all we have."

My hope is that your readers will implant that gem in the minds of their children.

Q: I read today's column in defense of the Maligned Mama's Boy. My daughter's life was shattered, her self-esteem taken away, her heart broken and her trust destroyed by a boy who professed to love her, gave her an engagement ring and persuaded her to move in with him.

At first, they lived together in peace, but then trouble started. He was continually at his mother's house, and she and an aunt interfered with them constantly. He asked her to give up her family. She couldn't make any phone calls, go shopping with her sister. He didn't like us or our home.

He withdrew $300 from their joint account without my daughter's knowledge or consent. Before she could confront him about it, he and his father came to their apartment and took away all his possessions and some of my daughter's things. My daughter had a funny feeling, and while they were in the midst of their actions, she went with her own father to their apartment and caught them.

Now they don't want to return anything and instead are #i demanding the return of other items. He conned her out of her engagement ring but kept the watch she had given him.

Please, Susan, keep telling everyone that any boy who is too attached to his mother and can't let go is sick.

A: Not every momma's boy is a wolf in sheep's clothing. But the problems that come along with an emotionally dependent partner are large enough in themselves to give pause. But don't forget his counterpart, the girl-woman who phones her mother every day of her marriage (at least once daily!) and can't assume the role of wife without her mother's advice and guidance every step of the way. Neither one is a prize package.

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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