DEAR STEEL ADVICE: My teenage daughter disagrees with advice she is getting from her mother regarding her hair care. She has lovely hair that could be nicer with the right ingredients. What should I do?
-- CONCERNED DAD
DEAR DAD: Don't touch this one with a 10-foot comb. Goldilocks is using her curls to annoy her mother. Never be the middle man in a split-end battle between two women. There is no permanent solution, and if you say the wrong thing, even an expensive conditioner won't smooth the tension. A sense of humor may prevent a blowout. Highlight the positive, and eventually your daughter's hairstyle will fall into place.
DEAR STEEL ADVICE: My 81-year-old dad is still sharp mentally and driving but is a little unsteady on his feet. My siblings and I are concerned about his falling, which our mother said does happen on occasion. We feel it would be prudent that he get a walking stick or cane for help with his balance. When we brought this up with him, he was very irritated. Should we keep gently pressing the issue, bring him one and hope he uses it, or should we drop it? We don't want to treat him like a child, but he is being irrational.
-- ADULT CHILD
DEAR ADULT CHILD: Drop it. Growing old is not a disease. Your dad perceives the cane as a visible marker of his loss of control. His pride is overriding his common sense. The more you push for the cane, the more he will resist. If your dad has poor balance he may fall with or without a cane. His resentment of the implied shift in the balance of power in your relationship will intensify his stubbornness. Be patient, be supportive and be present but do not assume you have all the right answers. A cane won't roll back the clock. An adult child's relationship with an aging parent is a dance. Let your dad have the lead for as long as possible. Relieve yourself of the authority you are trying to establish over his life.
Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice.