Dear Emuna

My teenage son walks around house burping loudly and making other rude noises. How do I get him to stop?

– Keeping My Ears Covered

Dear Covered Ears,

When you discover the answer to this question please let me know. (Oops! Have I revealed too much?) Rest assured; your son is not atypical.

This is the normal, albeit unpleasant, behavior of adolescent males (and very disturbing to adolescent females – which probably provides at least some of the motivation!).

Find some quiet time (probably at the end of the day when he finally stops moving) to sit down and talk to your son.

Remind him that he has a soul and a body and that we want to control our bodies, not have them control us. The body is the engine for the soul – the dream of most car owners is to have an engine that purrs quietly, not rumbles loudly (I think that’s true but I really know nothing about cars or their owners…)

It lacks dignity to put the body on display – in any respect.

In all likelihood, your son knows exactly what you’re talking about and will grin knowingly and even, perhaps, sheepishly. But even a grunt of acknowledgment should tell you you’ve done your job.

– Emuna

Dear Emuna,

I’ve tried everything possible to get my husband to take out the garbage. I’ve left it by the front door. I’ve left it by the back door. Once I even left it under his pillow! I’ve tried notes, phone calls, begging and pleading – with only intermittent success. He is a good husband in other respects but this obliviousness is driving me crazy.

– My Home is a Garbage Dump

Dear Owner of Garbage-Filled Home,

There’s a very simple solution to your problem: take the garbage out yourself! Why take a stand on this issue? Since you mention that he is otherwise a good husband, just consider yourself lucky and ignore the garbage issue.

Chances are it is not intentional. He means to and then he forgets. He means to and then he gets distracted. He means to and then he just doesn’t notice. Let it go. Focus on all the positive.

If you can’t quite get yourself there, one possible practical tool is to praise him when he takes it out, rather than nagging or attacking him when he doesn’t.

His wife’s praise and admiration mean a lot to a man and he will go to great lengths – even taking out the garbage – to earn it.

– Emuna

Dear Emuna,

I feel like I’m running a Laundromat. There are always dirty clothes to wash, dry and fold and with summer here and trips to pools and the beach, this has been exacerbated by the constant presence of soaking wet towels and, even worse, sandy ones. I tried putting up one of those signs they now post in hotel rooms suggesting that out of deference to the environment the towels be used more than once but no one took me seriously (that’s a separate problem!) What should I do?

–Buried Under a Mound of Wet Towels

Dear Damp Friend,

First the philosophical, then the practical. Let me begin my stating that I know exactly how you feel. The idea of using a towel twice makes my daughters wrinkle up their noses in revulsion “Ooh, gross!” Sarah Shapiro suggests in her book, Growing with My Children, that laundry is like the yetzer hara, the evil inclination. Just when we think we have it conquered and under it control (the empty laundry basket), it pops back up again (the full to overflowing one!) We need to be ever vigilant. I think of this idea (almost) every time I look at that new pile of laundry.

On more practical terms, you can try (if you can bear it) not washing all the towels immediately and let everyone experience the consequences of not leaving their wet towels hung up to dry. This is effective but does require more self-control than many of us possess.

I have another radical idea. Make your children responsible for their own laundry. They will think twice before throwing a wet towel in a pile on the floor if they know that its reappearance in a clean, fluffy state is up to them. They will become thriftier in their towel use and they will relieve you of some of the laundry burden. All you need to do is teach them the sophisticated skills involved in turning on a washing machine and dryer.

– Emuna