Dear Lafe! My Answers to Your Problems!

Lafe Tolliver

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

I normally do not engage in giving out personal advice to people who appear to be “stranded” or dumbfounded about how to successfully negotiate sticky or difficult personal scenarios, but with so many clamoring for my advice, I decided to put discretion aside and answer a few questions in the hopes that my answers will provide the needed peace and

guidance that is so desperately needed in these perplexing times:


I was wondering on your take about names for our first girl child. I want it to be

“different” but yet not nonsensical. Your thoughts? Darla.

Dear Darla,

Whatever you do, please do not hang a first name on any child that sounds as if you were talking with a mouth full of dried oatmeal when you named her! No hyphenated names or any name that will stand out on a college or job application as yelling, “I am Black!”

Be considerate that the child will have to learn to properly pronounce that name and when she goes to school, the teachers and her classmates may treat her as an oddball with such a head scratching name.

If you want to be creative with naming a child, use the middle name to create drama or the use of a tongue-twisting name. Some of the names I see makes me wish for a law regarding crazy names being a form of child abuse!


My two kids insist on using their smart phones while at the dinner table. I said no but all I get in return is two pouting kids. Any advice? George.

Dear George,

First of all, you must establish that in the family, there is a final authority to which the “others” must abide by as long as it is legal and non-violent. Telling your kids that mealtime is a time for conversation and laughter and not exercising their thumbs on their

little idols, is a reasonable request. If they balk at this after you evenly discuss why this is so, you need to take their phones away during mealtimes and replace that time by bringing up subjects for group discussions including the latest local or national news or funny things you heard round and about. Ask them to discuss their ambitions and goals in life and let them know that this new mealtime rule is for keeps, so they might as well adjust to it.


I am a mother of four children and, on weekends, I divide up the household work amongst them but all I get is a lot of rolling eyes and pursed lips. Any tips? Laura.

Dear Laura,

Good job in giving your kids some early examples of responsibility of maintaining the place that they live in. Continue to do so and when the work is not properly done, bring them back, show them the right way to do it and repeat and repeat until they get it right. Nothing worse than a grown man or woman being helpless when it comes to knowing basics such as household upkeep, cooking, yard maintenance, how to iron, wash dishes and run a vacuum and clean windows and set a table. You are on the right track. Don’t be sidetracked by their bad attitudes. Later in life, they will thank you for it.


When I go out on a date for the first time with a new person, should I automatically pick up the tab or, ahead of time, gently ask how we should pay the tab?

any thoughts on this touchy subject? Donald.

Dear Donald,

If you made the invite for the meal (regardless of the class of the restaurant), you should signal to the waiter that you want the tab. If your guest insists on sharing the bill, politely decline and tell her that she can pay or split the tab for the next meal, but this is your treat.



My grandfather died and left a considerable estate of money and stocks and, in his will, he wanted me to have half of everything. Now my five siblings are riled up because they feel that they are being “cheated” out of a fair share and they want me to share my half with them. I do not want to cause alienation, but I was the only grandchild that was there for him weekly for years before he passed. What should I do? Katherine.

Dear Katherine,

In their heart of hearts, they know who put in the time and effort with your grandfather when he needed care and attention, and you were that person. If a relative notices that and he wants to reward a person for that kindness, he has every right to do so and a will expresses those intentions. Calmly tell your siblings that you understand their consternation, but you will fulfill the requests of your grandfather and receive one half of the estate. If that causes any hurt feelings, so be it. Continue to graciously reach out to them but do not be buffaloed into doing something you do not believe in. And by the way, enjoy the money!


Someone committed a serious crime and I have personal knowledge of who did it and where they are hiding out. Should I tell the police or just keep it to myself? Bruce.

Dear Bruce,

Take the high road of protecting the community and any injured parties by using the anonymous crime report telephone number and report this creep. Black folks got to realize that being a so called “snitch” is being a hero because you are not allowing riffraff to

destroy a community or a neighborhood. Criminals do not respect you or your property and they sometimes rely upon you, being fearful of them in order to avoid detection or capture.

Be a hero and report it at the earliest.


My daughter is 15 and she is getting into Hip-Hop music. I have sat down with her to explain that some of the lyrics are not positive or helpful, but she brushes me off as being, “not with it.” Any suggestions? Regina.

Dear Regina,

Glad you are having such conversations with her. It shows that you are involved and concerned. One idea is to print out several pages of Hip-Hop music that you find offensive and go over the lyrics with her and show her that the rapper is crude, ignorant or may be devaluing women in his lyrics when he treats them as objects and not as a real people. Also, any rapper who uses the “N” word should be banned. No questions asked. Using the “N” is not cool or hip or, “with it.” It shows a woefully ignorant person who does not know their history and has no respect for other people of color. Educate! Educate! and Educate! Sow good seeds for a good harvest.

Well, dear readers, that is all for now. Keep those emails flowing!


Contact Lafe Tolliver at