cereta: Laura Cereta (cereta)
[personal profile] cereta
Q. Stolen kitchen dreams: I’ve always loved cooking and design, so when I told my best friend about my dream stove, she must have known I really had a special place in my heart for it. Imagine my surprise when I found out SHE had bought my dream stove before I could save up for it! Needless to say, I felt incredibly betrayed. I’ve basically been giving her the silent treatment for the better part of a year. To make matters worse, she acts like she has no idea why I’m so mad at her! My anger and hurt have gotten so bad that our friends called a meeting for us to talk it out, but I don’t want to hear anything from her unless it’s an apology. What should I do?

A: I don’t often find myself wishing that a letter were fake, but I sure hope you’re just some bored internet denizen inventing dramatic stove-related scenarios to entertain yourself. I’m not surprised your friend has no idea why you’ve grown so cold and distant. If one of my best friends suddenly gave me the silent treatment for almost an entire year, the type of stove I had recently purchased would not even make the top 100 possible reasons why. It would fall below “She has been possessed by the evil spirit Aku from Cartoon Network’s Samurai Jack” in terms of plausibility.

Your friend has purchased a stove. That is the only thing that has happened in this story. She has not deprived you of your ability to purchase an identical stove in the future. She has not taken the stove that is currently in your kitchen out of your home. You are still able to cook and design things to your heart’s content and have not been harmed in any way. This is straight-up Dr. Zoidberg “this is bad and you should feel bad” territory. You are being extremely unkind for extremely silly reasons and should immediately apologize and amend your behavior. If she forgives you, count yourself extremely lucky.
minoanmiss: Minoan lady watching the Thera eruption (Lady and Eruption)
[personal profile] minoanmiss
This is the one which sent me on today's Advice Column Adventure. Another doozy. Abortion in this country, good grief. Read more... )
minoanmiss: A detail of the Ladies in Blue fresco (Lady in Blue)
[personal profile] minoanmiss
This one is a doozy. I'm putting it behind a cut. Read more... )
cereta: Vic from Non Sequitur (Non Sequitur - Vic)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Prudence,
I recently rented a room from a single man whom I had a lot of chemistry with at the rental interview. I vowed not to pursue anything before moving in because he introduced his girlfriend (though seeing how they interacted with each other, I felt doubt as to whether she was really his girlfriend). A few days later, he invited me to an art event he was hosting. He seemed extremely happy to see me, got me a drink, and later sat down beside me and told me his life story, including a couple of serious health conditions. It was clear his implicit question was whether they were deal-breakers for me.

Afterward, I started to walk away, and he suddenly said in a shocked voice that he’d kissed my ear instead of my cheek when we said goodbye. I realized later he’d made a pass at me. Since then, it was somehow as if we’d agreed to pretend nothing ever happened. He recently told me he’d be home all day, with the implicit message that maybe we could hang out, but then wasn’t.
 He also has a relatively new business that keeps him busy. Should I write him off as unavailable, or try to talk to him? Ideally, I’d like to slowly begin to date him, though I worry that’s unwise, because moving again is impossible at the moment, both financially and emotionally.

—Perplexed

Oh, honey. You have expended more emotional energy on a man you have met twice than some people give to actual relationships. Of course she is his real girlfriend. Of course you should write him off as unavailable. This man is your landlord. When he tells you about his health problems, it is not because he is testing your compatibility. Whether the accidental ear-kiss was a clumsy, half-hearted attempt at flirting or simply a fumbled goodbye, it was certainly not an invitation to a relationship. I can guarantee that he has not spent a tenth of the mental energy you have on dissecting your few interactions. Pay him your rent on time and look for a boyfriend elsewhere.
cereta: Baby Galapagos tortoise hiding in its shell (baby turtle)
[personal profile] cereta
(Can you tell I'm catching up on Prudie?)

Dear Prudence,
I am 23, suffering from a degenerative disease, and mother to a toddler. My ex and I were a terrible match, but he adores our daughter, though he doesn’t put a lot of effort into their relationship. He has a solid income but is otherwise incapable of being a functional adult. He doesn’t pay attention to his bills or taxes and doesn’t clean, and he won’t even change the oil in his car until the engine blows (twice!). I have been dating a wonderful man for three years who loves me and my daughter and has asked me to marry him. He is starting a new job that will likely take him across the country, and he wants to be together. Despite his offer to fly her back as much as possible, I still feel guilty at the prospect of separating her and her father. Is it wrong to marry the good guy, who will take care of us, even if it means deeply altering my daughter’s relationship with her dad?

—Rethinking Remarriage

Get married, enjoy your wedding, take care of your health, and make sure that no matter where you end up, your daughter has regular visits scheduled with her dad. It will be hard for her to live far away from her father, but it would be much worse for her if you break up with your caring fiancé out of a twisted sense of guilt.
cereta: Bloom County, Opus typing "Maybe not that bad, but lord, it wasn't good." (it wasn't good)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Prudence,
My sister won’t speak to me because I taught her daughter a naughty word. I was playing Scrabble with my 8-year-old niece, who is very smart. She always kills me when we play and it’s kind of embarrassing for me. But this one game was close. I had the opportunity to play all my letters to spell “fellatio” ensuring I’d win the game. I thought a bit about whether I should play this word or just lose graciously. Pride got the better of me and I played the word. My niece didn’t believe it was a word and looked it up in the dictionary. This lead to numerous questions about sex that I wasn’t prepared for. So I told her to ask her mother. When my sister found out what I’d done she hit the ceiling. She was furious at me that I’d taught her this word. Now she won’t speak with me. I’ve considered apologizing but I don’t think I did anything wrong. She would have learned the word eventually anyway. When I was a kid, I learned far worse words younger than that.

Bud! Fellatio is only 11 points in Scrabble! Even with the 50-point bonus for using all of your tiles, this was the wrong hill to die on. It is a bad idea to teach your 8-year-old niece about blow jobs, no matter how much you thought you knew about oral sex when you were a kid. (For everyone who doesn’t believe Scrabble can lead to a situation like this: Play with my family sometime.) I admire your commitment to winning and share your salt-the-earth strategy when it comes to gamesmanship, but you should know better. Apologize to your sister, and don’t play Scrabble with your niece again.
cereta: White Wine (White Wine)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Prudence,
Our family has been close, seeing each other every week. My children are all in their 20s and have their own homes. Our only daughter got married earlier this year and we adore our son-in-law. Our son got engaged about three months before our daughter’s wedding. Our daughter was vocally angry that her brother got engaged before her wedding. When the newly engaged couple were looking for wedding venues, I (mistakenly) recommended the place my daughter planned her reception. It is a lovely location and I was thinking it would be a good fit. Unfortunately, they decided to book this same venue for their wedding scheduled a year later. Now my daughter is furious. She is demanding they move the reception somewhere else even though it will mean losing the substantial deposit. This has created a great deal of anxiety, especially for me, because I mourn the loss of our close-knit family. I don’t know what to do. We have even offered to pay the deposit and that angers her too. She says they have to pay the cost (I guess as a form of punishment). This is tearing our family apart. Please help.

—Something Borrowed

I fail to see how your daughter has been harmed in any way. Her ability to spin offense out of the thinnest strands of “thunder-stealing” rivals Rumpelstiltskin’s ability to spin straw into gold. Don’t think of this as losing your tightknit family. Part of what makes a family tightknit is the ability to handle conflict. Your daughter is throwing a tantrum and the best thing you can do for her (and yourself) is to refuse to humor her. She’s denying herself the opportunity to celebrate her brother’s wedding (and trying to manipulate him into giving up a substantial security deposit!) because she thinks the love and celebration that children deserve is a zero-sum game. It isn’t. Her brother proposing to his fiancé did not make her any less engaged to her own; her brother hosting his reception in the same building she once had hers does not diminish the uniqueness of her marriage. I hope very much this is an unusual lapse in grace for her. Tell her that she is being unreasonable and churlish, and that you look forward to her being able to put aside this imagined slight in time to celebrate her brother’s wedding. It’s going to be a lot of fun. She should try to have some.
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: 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: 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: Baby Galapagos tortoise hiding in its shell (baby turtle)
[personal profile] cereta
Note: I tried for five minutes to come up with a neutral way to phrase this trigger warning, and it's just not there. This was the best I could do.

Unwanted Parenthood/Parental Absence )
cereta: Amelia Pond (Amelia)
[personal profile] cereta
Q. Success through spandex?: I am a successful, work-from-home businesswoman who is an embarrassment to my tween daughter because I don’t look like the other moms at school. Specifically, I don’t wear Lululemon pants. She has asked me not to pick her up from school. How do I get my daughter to understand that her mom is a strong, respected, powerful woman whom she should be proud of? How do I get through to her that success isn’t defined by wearing the right brands but by having the respect of peers? Or should I just go buy myself a pair of Lululemons so she can have the respect of her peers?

A: This can’t be real. Can this be real? This can’t be real. And yet—anything that can happen … will happen. I have two suggestions: 1. Go full Auntie Mame and start picking up your daughter in ball gowns and ripped flannel and increasingly embarrassing costumes; teenagers can be painfully conservative, and this tendency ought to be gently teased right out of them. 2. Let her take the bus home. If she doesn’t like what the bus driver is wearing, she can try offering constructive criticism and see how other people welcome her input on their ensembles.

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Agony Aunt

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