Dear Annie: I have a beautiful daughter in her mid-20s. She is attractive, bright, friendly and hardworking. She has so much going for her. She does have a peculiar bad habit: She picks her nose in public. It’s not just a quick pick when no one is looking. This is a thorough deep cleaning without a tissue.
I have tried to talk to her about this, but her response is: “People need to accept me for who I am. If they don’t like me because I pick my nose, I don’t need them as friends.” I can’t help but think that her behavior is more than just a bad habit. I think there is a deep-rooted problem that drives her to do this. I think she uses it as a test to see whether people accept her and, perhaps, to drive some people away.
I have discussed this with other members of our family and her friends. They all say about the same thing: “If she wants to pick her nose, let her pick her nose.” I love her and want to see her succeed in life. I think her habit is holding her back socially, and it may affect her in her future career. I can’t help but think that this a form of personal sabotage.
I don’t know how to continue bringing up the subject and find the right words to encourage her to take a good look at her habit and understand why she is doing this. I hope you have some ideas for me.
— Dad Who Cares
Dear Dad Who Cares: Ick. On the one hand, the friends and family members are right. You can’t force someone to give up a bad habit, no matter how gross or self-destructive the habit might be. On the other hand, I can’t blame you for trying. If the social damage doesn’t deter her, fine, but she should consider the damage to her health. According to New York University otolaryngologist Erich Voigt, picking your nose introduces germs while also “causing little abrasions,” and the blood from the abrasions then provides food for the germs. That means your daughter’s nose could be home to dangerous bacteria. As I said earlier, ick. I hope she is moved to kick this nasty habit, pronto.
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