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Cooking Critic

Ask Manal: Need advice? Ask the life coach

  1. My mother in law is a good lady and I have no major complaints about her. However, she never likes anything I cook and always criticises whatever I prepare at home. My husband and children like the food I prepare and have no complains. I am always trying to do my best to please her but she definitely finds some mistake in everything and tries to advise me. I do not like this but do not have the courage to counter her. Is there any way I can win her over?


It sounds like you have taken her advice into consideration but she remains critical of your cooking. You don’t necessarily need to counter her, as that may negatively affect your relationship with her. But you can let her know how you feel about the situation, if you think she would be open to hearing it. Explain that you are trying your best to cook food to her liking and her approval is important to you, but you are starting to feel inadequate. Remember that you are trying your best, so this may not be personal at all. It may be that she just wants to show love to her family in the one way she knows – as we know food is culturally a way of showing love and caring. Focus on the qualities that make you say she is a ‘good lady’ and enjoy the positive aspects of her company.

  1. I am an 18 year old boy, just cleared my grade 12 a few months ago. I do not feel like continuing higher studies but I am interested in a career as  a singer. My parents think this is a crazy idea with no future. However, I disagree with them but I am not able to convince them. I have already lost a few months doing nothing but they insist I should make up my mind and join a college for higher studies in the next academic year. What should I do to make them understand? I do not want to waste their money by doing something I don’t like.


It’s great that you have found something you’re passionate about. You should note, however, that your parents are probably concerned that it might not work out for you and they likely feel that continuing higher studies is a safer option. International statistics show that college graduates earn more each year, and the unemployment rate for those without a college degree is much higher than those with a degree. Therefore, in order to make them understand your point of view, you should show them you have a clear plan as to how to establish a stable, secure career in singing.

If you’re not able to do that, consider whether you can compromise by continuing your education in a field related to or complementary to singing. This would give you more skills while still being able to pursue singing, in addition to giving your parents some reassurance.

  1. Recently, I have become interested in one of my colleagues in office but I do not have the courage to tell her about my feelings. We are both single and unmarried but belong to different religious backgrounds. I know, she has a soft corner for me, too, but I am afraid I will spoil everything if I reveal my innermost feelings to her. Should I write her a letter expressing my feelings or directly tell her about it?


When it comes to relationships at the office, you need to tread carefully. First, you should note that most organisations have rules against office relationships. Secondly, the person you are interested in will have to continue to see you regularly, so expressing feelings which she may not reciprocate might her feel awkward coming to work after that. This could also constitute harassment at the workplace. As such, before expressing your feelings to her, you should be confident that she has an interest in you and that there is a possibility of a serious future for both of you. If you decide to do so, you should express your feelings directly (or through a trusted third party) and preferably not in a workplace setting. Otherwise, the situation might become uncomfortable for both of you.

  1. I am a class ten student and share a bench with a classmate who has the habit of stealing things that belong to others. I myself have lost a few things, like pens and erasers, which I am sure has been taken by her because I have seen her pinching stuff that belongs to other students. I have told her a few times that this is not a good habit but she passes it off like a joke. She says everyone must share their resources but prefers only to take, not give, anything. If I report this matter to our class teacher, I am sure she will be embarrassed in front of everyone. So I do not want to do that. But things are not improving. What should I do?


Sometimes, people do things that may look like bad habits but are actually a way of expressing their pain or seeking help. Approach her with empathy and without judgment to really find out if there is a reason why she feels the need to take other students’ belongings. Perhaps, she may not have enough money to get her own. Also, explain to her how her actions affect others in case she isn’t aware. Show her that you are not shaming her but genuinely care for her. If this does not help and you don’t want to report it to the teacher, then just focus on safeguarding your things.


(Send your queries, marked ASK MANAL, to: theweekadvice@apexmedia.co.om)

(Manal al Adawi is a certified positive psychology coach in Oman)