cereta: (batgirlwit)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR ABBY: My sister, "Dawn," recently got engaged to a man I detest. They have been dating for two years. I don't trust him, and I believe he is controlling her. He has lied to me and to my parents, and has strained Dawn's relationship with our family by constantly making her choose between either him or us.

Dawn worked hard to earn her master's degree and is now earning a great salary; her fiance has no education beyond high school, constantly switches jobs and uses my sister for financial support.

I have spoken to her multiple times in the past about my concerns, and at one point made it clear that I wouldn't attend her wedding. Now that Dawn has decided to move forward with the relationship, am I required to go? My parents, despite not supporting my sister's marrying this man, still plan to attend and are urging me to go. I don't think I can stomach seeing it. What do I do? -- OPPOSED IN NEW YORK

DEAR OPPOSED: Go to the wedding. If this man is as awful as you say he is, your sister is going to need all of the support she can get from people who love her. One of the things that insecure, controlling men try to do is isolate their victims. Letting Dawn know that you love her and will always be there for her will make it much harder for her husband to do.
cereta: (spydaddy)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Prudence,
I don’t get along with my sister-in-law. She adores my brother and makes him very happy so I try to be friendly when I see her, but now that we’ve moved back to his hometown and she lives just a few miles away, it’s gotten much harder. She criticizes my taste in furniture, my clothes, and my cooking. I try to deflect the comments, but she will not let it go. Recently, my husband and I adopted two rescue dogs and posted pictures of them in Facebook. I then get a text from my sister-in-law telling me that I have to change the names of my dogs because she is going to use those names for her kids, and that she is now pregnant but I can’t tell anyone. This is ridiculous and I don’t know what to do. Do I just ignore her and hope it goes away? Share the text and get raked over the coals for spoiling the pregnancy surprise? Post tons of pictures of my dogs and refer to them as my babies? I have to live with this woman in my life and I don’t want to hurt my brother but I am not changing the names of my dogs.
—Changing Names, Keeping Boundaries


This is a sister-in-law for the record books! I’ve heard of plenty of fights over baby names, but I’ve yet to come across the dog-versus–unborn baby combo, where the dogs in question have already been named and the baby does not yet exist. I almost—almost—admire her ability to mine conflict from a seemingly peaceful landscape. As tempting as it might be to start rubbing Ruby and Synthesizer in your sister-in-law’s face, I think gentle nonengagement is the road to hoe here. “We’re not going to change the dog’s names, but congratulations on your pregnancy! What exciting news.” Don’t get drawn into an argument or an explanation for your behavior, because what she’s asking is so absurd that the only response it merits is a flat refusal. There is a nonzero possibility that this pregnancy is invented solely to try to get you to do what she wants, which is why she asked you and not your brother, and why she’s swearing you to secrecy now. Perhaps I’m being paranoid, but your sister-in-law has already displayed a propensity for the irrational, and it’s quite a coincidence she favors the name of both your pets, not just one. Plenty of dogs have human names and vice versa; your sister’s children, whenever they come into being, will have to share their names, no matter how unique, with any number of other humans and animals. They’ll be just fine.
cereta: Batman with words, "No, you're a poopy butt" (Batman thinks you're a poopy butt)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR ABBY: While our 6-year-old enjoys the positive attention he receives from his often unusual and imaginative clothing choices, his grandparents feel we are being "disrespectful to others" by allowing him and our other children to wear these outfits in public.

Neither my husband nor I was permitted freedom of expression as children, and we agreed that with the exception of health, profanity, lewdness, immodesty and adherence to organizational dress codes, that we would not restrict our children's freedom of expression. While we often don't agree with our children's choice of attire, it seems prudent to choose the battles we fight.

Is anyone other than our parents actually offended by a pirate (sans weapon) in the dentist office, or a backward shirt at the grocery store? And if they are offended, does their desire not to see a costumed child trump my children's need for a healthy outlet for their individuality during this phase of their life over which they have so little control? -- CLARK KENT'S MOM

DEAR CLARK KENT'S MOM: I seriously doubt that anyone other than your parents and in-laws cares at all if your children visit the dentist looking like Clark Kent, a cowboy or his horse. As far as I'm concerned, your children should be allowed to exercise their sartorial creativity. It's harmless. A few years from now they'll be getting pressure from peers about fitting in, so let them enjoy themselves while they can.
cereta: (bert and ernie)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR ABBY: After the birth of our son, "Ricky," my husband insisted he sleep in our bed with us. When our son was 3, I finally put my foot down because none of us were sleeping peacefully. Ricky is now 8, and my husband lies in his bed with him until he falls asleep.

Our daughter, "Julie," was born 2 1/2 years ago. She slept in our bed until she was 1, when I moved her to her own bed. She goes down well on her own, but seems to be more clingy (with me especially) during the day. I try to make sure she gets the affection she needs before bedtime, but I feel guilty that she doesn't get that closeness at night.

By the end of the day I'm exhausted, and I do not want to fall asleep in a kid's bed. Am I wrong for wanting bedtime without kids? At what age should children sleep on their own? -- SLEEPY IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR SLEEPY: You're not wrong. Some parents co-sleep with their children for the first few months after they are born because they enjoy the closeness. After that, they transition the baby to sleeping in a crib nearby so the child's needs can be attended to as necessary.

According to Los Angeles pediatrician Faisal Chawla, M.D., children form their sleep habits early: "The longer co-sleeping continues, the more difficult sleeping separately becomes. At 7 or 8 months, babies begin to develop age-appropriate separation anxiety. By the age of 1, a routine is usually set in a child's mind. By age 2, it becomes very difficult to change the sleeping routine because of the 'terrible 2s' temperament that begins."

Your husband has done Ricky no favors by continuing to lie beside him until he falls asleep. Your son should have started sleeping alone years ago. A boy his age should be able to go to sleepovers at friends' houses or away to summer camp without having to worry about sleeping because his dad isn't there.
minoanmiss: (Default)
[personal profile] minoanmiss
Q. After a recent family gathering, I received a series of disturbing e-mails through Messenger on Facebook from my brother-in-law of 19 years.

First, he stated that he would like to “talk apart from family gatherings” because he wanted to “get more of a feel for who you are as a person.”

At first I thought that was nice, but he then went on to state that there is more to life than “constant surveillance, restriction, etc.,” noting that “everyone needs a safety valve sometimes.”

He later noted, “I have carte blanche from my wife to do whatever I want, as long as I don’t bring home any surprises.”

Even though he implored me not to “blab it around town,” I’ve shared this with two women friends and my husband.

They all think, as do I, that it’s a pick-up, and very odd and strangely aggressive.

I, for one, am trying to figure out how I led him to think this would be OK with me.

His wife (my sister-in-law) is an angel, but is fiercely protective of him. I think she would just be mad at me and my husband if I told her. I have not responded at all to these messages, however, there will be family gatherings this fall and now I don’t know how to behave. Can you make any suggestions? Perhaps I’m reading this incorrectly?

Bewildered


A. You should make two assumptions: That this is a come-on, and that you have not done anything to lead this man on.

Your brother-in-law is being rude, ridiculous, and disrespectful.

You should respond to him (not his wife), saying, “I find these messages very unwelcome and would appreciate it if you would direct your attention away from me. I see you as a family member, along with your wife, and I don’t wish to communicate privately with you.”

If he continues (other than to acknowledge receiving your message), and certainly if he ramps up his aggression, you should screenshot his communication and forward it to his wife.
cereta: Amelia Pond (Amelia)
[personal profile] cereta
Q. Marriage possibly ending: I have been with the same guy for six years, married for one. He has two sons from a previous marriage, and she is not in the picture. If it is relevant I’m a male too. My husband has asked me if I could accept his moving into his own apartment for a year because he has never been on his own. He says he doesn’t want us to break up, just live apart for a while. The boys would stay with me in our home, and he would take them to spend the night every so often. We would also have a weekly date night just to keep our relationship “on track.” He married his ex right out of high school, and they had children right away, so he really hasn’t ever been on his own. I have not given a response other than asking a few questions. Truthfully the idea makes me mad as hell and I just want to tell him to leave if you want and take your damn brats with you! Then I calm down and realize I can’t live without him and the boys. Or maybe I can. I feel this is unbelievably selfish of him, but I kind of understand. But the boys have already been abandoned by their mother, how would this plan affect them? I am so confused, and hurt. Help!

A: I would resist the urge to take your (extremely understandable) frustration, hurt, and confusion out on the kids by referring to them, even facetiously, as “your damn brats”; whatever happens between you and your husband, I hope very much that you can see his children are not responsible for his behavior. What troubles me the most is his request that you take over primary custody of his children so he can have a bachelor pad. It’s one thing to suggest living apart from one’s romantic partner; it’s quite another to abdicate daily responsibility toward your own children just because you’ve never lived in a studio. I might have more faith that your husband was trying to suggest a genuine, radical-yet-loving change in your living situation if he weren’t also asking you to become his children’s primary caregiver—it sounds to me that what he is asking is for you to become the father he no longer feels like being, while you get to see him for one date night a week. If he wants a divorce, that’s one thing, but what he’s offering is a homemade custody agreement that puts the burden of daily caregiving almost entirely on you. That’s not “keeping your relationship on track”; that’s abandonment. What he’s proposing is selfish and cruel, and you are right to reject it. Tell him that his plan is unacceptable and that you will not consider it, and hold firm. If you two end up divorcing over this—and you may—you should figure out a custody agreement that benefits the children first, and your husband’s desire to live in a loft second.
cereta: two blue clay tea cups with tan flowers (tea cups)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my soul mate for 25 years. We get along great -- she's my best friend and a good mother to our three kids. (She takes care of my mom who lives with us, too.) The only problem is, she loves to sleep.

She will do anything for us except wake up a few hours early without being mad at the world. She gets our kids off to school with no problem, but then returns to bed. I run a small construction company and need someone to answer the phones and do secretary stuff. Our books are a mess, the house is decent, but she won't let me hire a part-time secretary.

She gets up at noon and spends the rest of the day "catching up." It's driving a wedge in our marriage. My friends and their wives do things together on weekends, but not mine. She sleeps until 2 or 3 p.m. on the weekends.

I work a lot of Saturdays, and when I go to customers' homes and see the wife outside gardening, it breaks my heart. I have threatened to leave, and she works on it for a couple days and then falls back into the same old habits. Help! -- HURTING HUSBAND IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR HUSBAND: Not everyone requires the same amount of sleep in order to function. Some folks may be fine with five hours, but others need eight, nine or even 10. If your wife needs more than that, there may be an underlying problem of some kind that she should discuss with her doctor.

In marriage there needs to be compromise. If you are experiencing stress because you don't have enough help in your business, then you need to hire someone because your wife is already doing all she can taking care of three kids and your mother. And you shouldn't need her permission.
shirou: (cloud)
[personal profile] shirou
Dear Prudence,

My parents are coming to town this week and I’m already losing sleep. When my son was 6 months old (he’s 3 now) my parents watched him for a couple of hours. When we returned we noticed five beer bottles in the recycling and some used wine glasses. If this had been a regular babysitter I would have fired them, but they are my parents. Since then I haven’t let them babysit together or at night, but they always offer. I’ve told my mom about my reluctance about a year ago and got an “I understand” but no apology. I’m still mad that they could be so reckless. Do I need to get over this and let them babysit or is it worth another try explaining my hesitation for free babysitting?

—Should I Let My Parents Babysit?

One of the glories of adult life is the realization that we never have to simply “get over something” merely for the sake of getting over something. That’s not to encourage you to hold permanent grudges, mind you, but you don’t have to suddenly become comfortable with the idea of your parents finishing off a six-pack and a bottle of wine while looking after your infant son just because some time has passed. You don’t mention that your parents have a history of alcohol abuse, so if it seemed like a one-off episode of bad judgment, it may be worth having a follow-up conversation before deciding whether to keep them off the babysitting roster permanently. Tell them you don’t want them to drink alcohol while babysitting your son, and that it particularly disturbed you to find they’d drank rather heavily—not just a beer or two apiece—the last time you put him in their care. If their response is open and apologetic, and you think they’re capable of trying again sober, consider giving them another (briefer, lower-stakes) try at babysitting. Your son is presumably walking around and babbling now, and so they may find it more natural (and more demanding) to engage with him instead of having a drink. If they seem evasive or defensive or unable to promise to wait to imbibe until after you get home, well—free babysitting isn’t worth that sort of headache.
cereta: blue clay teapot with tan flowers (teapot)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Prudence:

My husband and I have been happily married for three years. We each have grown children from our first marriages. His daughter had a baby as a teenager, and my husband and his first wife raised “Maggie” until she was 5 years old. After Maggie’s father was discharged from the military, he and his wife raised her. Last summer, he was convicted of a crime and incarcerated. His wife divorced him and was unable to care for Maggie, so she came to live with us. She is a 16-year-old high-school sophomore, very pretty and well-behaved; she is involved in sports and sees a therapist weekly. My husband has been appointed her legal guardian until she turns 18. He and I work full time and have had to give up kayaking and travel for family dinners and sports practice. I’m feeling a huge sense of loss about my wonderful life with my husband. I know this sounds selfish, but I raised my kids, and I was looking forward to our gradual retirement and relaxing of responsibilities. Maggie's mother is now married, has small children, and lives across the country. We have taken Maggie to visit, and it’s gone well. I would like Maggie to go live with her mother, who loves the idea, because she’s been wracked with guilt for abandoning her. She and her husband are struggling financially, but my husband and I could help. My husband is a kind man, and he is afraid to let his granddaughter go again. Maggie would prefer to live with us in comfort than with her birth mother and her family. What should we do?

—Wicked Step-Grandmother

Dear Wicked,
Let’s say Maggie was a dog. You wouldn’t advocate re-homing her yet again, because it would be too traumatic. You are rightly feeling wicked because you know making Maggie live with a group of struggling virtual strangers will be disastrous. It's good to facilitate a relationship between Maggie and her mother, but you don’t send a high school sophomore to start over at a new school with a new family. Let’s be blunt about your self-interest. Maggie is 16 and, despite everything she’s been through, on the right track. If she continues along this path, in two years she will be heading off to college. But if you want your husband to withdraw the love, support, and stability she has with you two, then you will vastly increase the chances that this girl falls apart. In that case, you will have an undone teenager living in your basement for the foreseeable future. Sure, you’d like your life to look like a Cialis commercial (presumably without the need for Cialis). But instead, for the next couple of years, it’ll be more like a Playtex Sport tampon advertisement. (And I don’t understand why the three of you can’t do some traveling and kayaking together.) You married a decent man who’s now the legal guardian of his granddaughter. Honor that obligation and the fact that he took it on. It’s likely you will benefit from having chosen someone who doesn’t flinch when circumstances get tough. Surely by this point in your life, you know how fleeting two years will be. I also have a 16-year-old high-school sophomore, and my husband and I are feeling acutely how swiftly the time will pass before our daughter is off.

—Prudie
cereta: (foodporn)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My girlfriend is very particular about table manners. She makes a point of leaving a scattering of food on her plate at the end of a meal rather than finishing every crumb as I do.

I know it only amounts to one or two forkfuls, but having traveled extensively in very poor countries, I think this is wasteful and absurd. The plates are also harder to wash. What are your thoughts?

GENTLE READER: That she would like to be excused before someone discovers her responsibility in this matter. But that would be cowardly.

The sad truth is that a century ago, it was indeed the case that children in families that could afford it were taught not to finish everything on their plates. The embarrassing part is that the rule was phrased as "Leave something for Miss Manners" (and in England, "Leave something for Lady Manners").

So yes, while some people were starving, others were wasting food. Miss Manners was not starving, because she got all the rich folks' leftovers.

It was Eleanor Roosevelt's grandmother who repealed this rule. As recounted in Mrs. Roosevelt's "Book of Common Sense Etiquette": "My grandmother came to believe that food was needed in the world and we who had an abundance should not waste it."

Miss Manners agrees -- thoroughly and, as you might notice, selflessly.
cereta: Audrey from Haven (Audrey)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband surprised me with a dress to wear out on our anniversary. I was surprised by this gesture and wore the dress proudly. I thought this would be a one-time thing. Now, my husband wants to dress me or gives his not-always-positive input on my outfits. I took his first gesture as a fun way to connect, but now I'm regretting opening this door. How can I ask my husband to step back and to stop buying me the clothing he wants me to wear? -- Fashion Emergency, Shreveport, Louisiana

DEAR FASHION EMERGENCY: Clearly, your husband is trying to send you a message. Before you say anything, do a visual review of what he has bought for you and what you have chosen for yourself. Figure out what the difference is between the two wardrobes and if there is anything that you like about his choices. This does not mean that you should feel OK about him putting down your choices. This may also be a fun way for you to connect with each other that sparks some youthful romance.

Feel free to tell him that while you enjoy dressing up for him, you want to take back the control of your wardrobe. Soften the blow by asking him what excites him in wardrobe choices so that you can sprinkle some of those features into your outfits.
cereta: Aristotle wonders what they teach them in these schools (aristotle)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been dating for two years. He is in grad school. I failed out of community college. My lack of education stresses me out emotionally. I love him very much, and I see a future with him. But the idea of an architect and a community college dropout makes my heart ache. He deserves someone more on his intellectual level. He is originally from another state and this is one of the reasons why I haven't met his family.

I have thought about trying to get a degree to become a certified nursing assistant, but again there would be a gap in our professional levels. I'm afraid that when he does introduce me to his family they will convince him he's better off without me. Part of me believes it's true.

Please give me advice about what to do. I don't want to lose him, but at the same time, I want him to be happy. -- UNEQUAL IN WISCONSIN

DEAR UNEQUAL: I can't help but wonder if you have ever spoken with someone who does career counseling. Some universities and community colleges have extension divisions that offer it. Part of the counseling involves aptitude testing, which could help you determine what you would be good at.

Being a nursing assistant is a respectable career that involves responsibility and people skills. If you feel drawn to it, then that's what you should pursue, and you should not feel embarrassed or have a need to apologize for it.
cereta: (spydaddy)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR ABBY: I'm a single father raising my four children alone. My problem may seem trivial and minor, but it's extremely taxing for me. My kids refuse to stop talking during my very brief television/movie time.

I work full time and take care of them by myself, and my two-hour escape via a movie or TV show is constantly interrupted. When I point out that what they are doing is rude and even disruptive, I am met with accusations that I "don't care about them" or "You love TV more than me." They somehow turn my anger around to their benefit. Please help. -- ME TIME IN FLORIDA

DEAR ME TIME: Welcome to parenthood! It's a 24-hour-a-day job, seven days a week.

You didn't mention how old your children are, but if they are under the age of 13, they should have a regular bedtime. Once they are in bed, you can have your "me time." However, if they are older, then accept that teenagers may need to communicate with their dad about things that are important, and it is more important to be available to them than to watch television every night.

P.S. Suggestion: Perhaps you can record or stream your shows and watch them at a later time when your kids don't need you.

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