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Ask Ellie: Give more information on reasons for answers

Reader’s Commentary “I have been reading Ellie’s advice column for years. I haven’t always agreed with her, but even still, I’ve found information that gave me another insight or avenue to consider. I have learned a lot about how to think about relationships and approach family, friend and acquaintance dynamics. What I’ve liked the most is how your columns have encouraged me to think about the questions at hand and the broader issues involved.

“Lisi, I love your new and fresh approach to the column. I appreciate your forthright, sometimes even blunt, approach to a situation. Don’t change your style. I think having the different approaches from you and Ellie make the column more dynamic. But I want more “background.”

“Your response to the parent whose daughter overheard her friend’s parents arguing was just too short (Dec. 9). This is an issue I’ve had to deal with with my kids – in both directions – when they have heard other parents argue and when their friends have been uncomfortable with an argument at our house.

“Although I have never dealt with the level of inappropriateness that your writer spoke about, I was interested to know your take and how it could apply to my own life. I am sure many parents have dealt with similar situations and would be equally keen to hear how you would approach the issues. You only gave us the answer, not the thinking behind it. I like your “tell it like it is” approach but please also give us “tell it why it is.”

“You wrote that your ‘knee-jerk reaction is to call the mom’ and if the writer didn’t like that approach, ‘then have your daughter’s friend over more often, and give it some time before you let your daughter go there,’ and also to talk to the girl if appropriate in the relationship, but do not press. All great advice. But what led you there? What kind of relationship with the child would make it OK to talk or not? What could go wrong?

“Obviously you cannot address all these issues. To be fair, you have done this in some columns but not consistently. I have often agreed with Ellie and initially thought that her answer and explanation should have been obvious. And yet she invariably gives me a slight difference in angle or approach that gets me thinking.

“By giving us more information about why you give the advice you do, you open up our ability to consider the questions and issues more broadly and apply them to our own unique situations. This helps to make your advice enlightening and useful to more than just the questioner.”

Make me think

Lisi: Thank you for this feedback. I will do my best to give you, the reader, more.

Dear Lisi: My husband is in denial and won’t accept that we are no longer happily married. I walked out on him. I couldn’t take it anymore. He wouldn’t accept that we needed counselling, he just kept saying we were in a slump.

I moved in with my much younger sister, and it’s been fabulous. We’ve been having so much fun, and I’m free to be who I want without my husband around judging me.

Here’s the problem: we booked a sun holiday after the craziness of the holidays. It’s paid for and non-refundable. I’m dying to get away, to a beach, to soak up the sun, but not with my husband.

What do I do?


Ask your soon-to-be ex if he’ll sell his half of the vacation to your sister. If not, sell your half to him and book a separate vacation. If it’s over, it’s over. He’ll get the message.

FEEDBACK Regarding the teenager completely reliant on her mother (dec. 13):

Reader – “I’m a retired former social worker whose practice focused on adolescents. While teens often display rebellious behaviours that could be interpreted through one lens as “lazy,” or lacking knowledge, it’s not always about the surface issue.

“If she’s not eating, falling asleep in class, leaving for parts unknown, etc., I would be concerned about the possibility of anxiety or depression. I would advise her parents to talk with their daughter about how she is doing, then speak with the school for a better picture of her performance there and then seek help from the family doctor.

“As you’ve noted, the effects of COVID-19 on top of normal teen angst can result in difficulty, but I would not assume it’s about how to make snacks.”

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: or

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