Ask Helen: High School Grad Still Needs Confidant

A Nosh of Jewish Wisdom: I can chew for you, but you have to swallow for yourself.

Dear Helen:
I’m godmother/fairy godmother to my friends’ son. His parents have trained him to talk to me if he has a serious problem. It only happened three times, when they were close to a divorce that didn’t happen. He’s graduating and moving away for college. His family lacks for nothing, and I despise money/gift cards as presents. What can I give him that’s more meaningful than music downloads?

Dear Godmother:
Good job on being the parental backup. If the legions of fairy godmothers focused our energy at the same time, we could heal the world! Everyone likes money, but enough others will gift it. I’m still a fan of great books, or their current equivalent, apps that offer anthologies of poetry, inspiration, humor and guidance. It’s not as romantic to imagine reading to one’s beloved by the fire while holding a tablet, but that’s the way of the new world. So find an app about something he’s interested in, or give him something inspirational, like a chess set. In addition, give him a dinner invitation. When you meet, tell him the 24/7 crisis pass still holds through college, no matter what he needs, even if it involves bail money. Remind him that he’s going to face situations he hasn’t seen before, and that while you trust his judgment, all of us do stupid things while we’re growing up. Tell him that no matter what, he should feel safe dialing you, and you will help him resolve any future problem.

A resident of Eugene since 1981, Helen is a member of Temple Beth Israel, where she studies and speaks on Torah. She claims to have black belts in schmoozing, problem-solving and chutzpah. She’s a writer and an artist ( Please email your questions to helen@yourjewishfairygod- and check out the blog at


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