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Josh Anderson
Nancy Malone
JUST ASK MOM, by Nancy Malone, CPO Publishing, 206 pages, $19.95

Nancy Malone received a lot of phone calls the year her daughter was a freshman in college. Malone thought she'd covered most of the basics before her child left home — the basics of cooking, laundry, budgeting and relationships. Apparently, though, more help was needed.

So Malone decided to write a book. The book, "Just Ask Mom," came out this spring. It is subtitled, "Everything She Told You When You Weren't Listening Is in This Book."

The book is intended as a gift for graduating seniors. Yet, when you read it, you can't help but see it as a tribute to moms.

These are but a smattering of the subjects a mom has to cover before sending her child into the world: Organization, goal-setting, stain removal, what to eat when recovering from the flu, housekeeping, what to wear to a funeral, how to balance a checkbook, good posture, how to be a friend, living without regrets, what to carry in your glove box.

Malone includes all this and more in her book. She includes recipes for everything from a grilled cheese sandwich to pot roast. She includes a list of basics that every guy and every young woman should have in their closets.

One of her best lists is the one about how to find value in others. She writes: Be realistic in your expectations. Try not to compete. Find one thing you have in common. Focus on the person's strengths. Extend the same compassion you would want shown to you. Look past the outer shell. Remember that everyone has a story.

In general, Malone has good values, and she tries to help her young readers remember the values with which they were raised. But there may be one place where Malone's advice would differ from your own.

In the section on finances, she is quite cavalier about tithing. She writes: "If you are a regular attendee of a church or religious institution (and Mom hopes you are), you are well acquainted with tithing. ... Many people follow this practice and are faithful givers. However, it can be difficult when you are a newly independent person. Give what you can and don't feel pressured, especially when you are having trouble making ends meet. Someday you will be able to give more."

It may be that she intends this advice for young people who are being supported by their parents. Perhaps "newly independent" does not mean "financially independent." Still, if a young person has a job, is 10 percent so hard to set aside?

And maybe she should be telling young people to set aside 20 percent. Many financial experts encourage young people to save 10 percent of what they earn in a 401(k). Though she gives good tips on budgeting, Malone does skip over the idea of 401(k)s.

Rather than saying, "Don't feel pressured," she might have said it is actually possible for a young person to contribute 10 percent to a savings plan and another 10 percent to a religion or charity.

Malone does talk about the importance of volunteering, however. When she talks about responsibility she reminds young people to be reliable and trustworthy — and to give back to the world. If you are a mom, this is probably something you've said yourself.

In the end there may be a reason why your children need a book to remind them of what you said when they weren't listening. By the time they turn 18, they may have started to tune you out. Maybe they'll be more appreciative of your advice if it comes in book form Malone.


E-mail: susan@desnews.com