Ask Amy: High school daughter is plagued by doubts

Dear Amy: I have a daughter in high school. She is gorgeous, popular, does well in school, and excels at soccer (she plays on a regional travel team).

It is hard for her mother and I to understand why she seems to have low self-esteem. She is very hard on herself and sometimes seems consumed by doubt.

We’re interested in any recommendations you might have.

— Concerned Parents

Dear Concerned: Take this in: Being beautiful, popular, smart, and high-achieving does not inoculate anyone against depression, anxiety, a mood disorder, or crushing doubt. Look to any number of gifted athletes for examples.

A person’s brain seems to run independently from all of these external blessings. And your high-achieving and perfectionist teen is vulnerable.

I recently watched a documentary featuring top ranked Spanish tennis player Paula Badosa, who has been open about her mental health struggles.

During a particularly tough tournament, the documentary shows her meeting with her coach and talking about her current alarming mental state, when he says something extraordinary: “When you feel this way, you need to stop and walk away.”

Basically, he was giving her permission and encouragement to put her mental health first. Surely this is extremely hard for a tough competitor to do.

You should urge your daughter toward an evaluation, therapy, and mental health coaching so that she can reveal her struggles, learn coping strategies, and perhaps consider walking away from activities which burden her the most.

Dear Amy: My 13-year-old daughter, “Annie,” did a cat sitting job for a neighbor and friend of ours, finishing on the first of the month.

Annie sent a text to the cat’s owner on the last day, saying thanks for letting her pet sit and that she enjoyed it. We never heard anything back.

Five days later, I sent a text saying thanks for letting Annie pet sit, and asking politely when she would get paid.

Cat Owner said, “I’ll pay you on the 10th as I prefer to pay in cash and give feedback in person, is that OK? Or I could do Venmo, but only if you need that.” I agreed to payment on the 10th.

On the 10th Cat Owner texted saying, “I am too exhausted and have no cash so can’t do payment today. Can we do another day? Or if you urgently need money, I can do Venmo but prefer not to.”

I responded, “Sure, we can do another day. Which day is good?” There was no response to this.

On the 14th I texted, “Hey, Cat owner, just checking in on that payment for Annie? Can we just do the Venmo? I’ll send my details now.”

The next morning, she responded with a nasty gram about how she doesn’t need me reminding her, she is very busy with houseguests, she doesn’t have time yet to go to the bank, she always pays her bills, she has gifts for us, she has never used Venmo but now had to create an account, and all because I must urgently need money etc. It went on and on.

I didn’t respond.

She did Venmo the money after that.

Of course, from now I’ll arrange payment details first. She is a neighbor, so I didn’t think we’d have these problems.

I’m not sure if I should address this in person when I run into her?

Did I do something wrong here? How long does a teenage pet sitter usually wait to get paid?

— Frustrated Mamabear

Dear Frustrated: You’ve done nothing wrong. A pet sitter — like a child sitter — should be paid promptly right at the end of the gig, unless there is another arrangement.

You can avoid this in the future by being extremely clear: “Annie charges $10/day. You can give her a check or cash on the last day or (because of her age) Venmo me on the last day and I’ll make sure she receives your payment.”

Reliable pet sitters are worth their weight in Friskies. Your neighbor has lost what sounds like could have been a good and reliable cat sitter. There is no need to continue to follow up with her (in person or otherwise), because the matter is now settled.

Dear Amy: Regarding “On Time,” whose friend was always late, a simple way to deal with someone who is consistently late is to specify the meeting time an hour earlier than it truly is.

Bonus, if they arrive before you, you can note, “Wow, that’s a switch! You waiting for me!”

— Faithful Reader

Dear Reader: Many readers offered this solution.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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