minoanmiss: (Default)
[personal profile] minoanmiss
Dear Carolyn: In my childhood, criticism from my parents was the constant theme. My grades were never good enough, my room was never clean enough, whatever. As a result, I feel little to no affection for my parents now that I’m an adult, and I don’t spend much time with them or talk to them much. I just don’t like them very much.

However, some people who know this say I’m going to regret distancing myself from them when they’re gone. Do you think that’s true? Should I make more of an effort to spend more time with them now so I don’t regret it later?

— Criticized


Criticized: Your friends would regret distancing themselves, if they were in your position. That doesn’t mean you will.

So, no, I don’t think that is universally true that distance equals regrets.

However, I do believe that seeing parents as people, instead of just as parents, is a more useful way to determine how to adapt your relationship with them over time.

What you describe of your parents is a child’s view of people who, apparently, thought that being a parent meant being strict and teachy all the time. I agree with you that it’s a cold way to go, and tough to forgive, but there are other aspects of parenthood that could provide a fuller and fairer picture. Were their parents that way with them? Was the culture around them one of “seen and not heard” and “spare the rod” orthodoxy? Did they tend not to question things about life in general, their parenting views among them? Was one of them softer but not strong enough to counteract the other?

And: What did they become after their active child-rearing years were over? Did they remain locked in a cold orthodoxy, or did they bloom a little when the weight of responsibility was removed? Are they trying to get to know you now, or are you still 12 to them?

Do you know them all that well as people, or did you distance yourself effectively enough that your last real impression of them was formed as you fled their home after high school?

I ask these questions entirely without judgment. People have their natural, even reflexive ways of looking out for their own health, and kids of unhappy childhoods can even have this need as their central motivation. It makes sense.

But when you get to the point where you’re asking whether this is the right way to go, my inclination is to suggest that you keep asking questions and see where your inquiry leads you. If you don’t feel up to digging all that out, that’s reasonable. Your prerogative. It might also make sense to spend a few sessions with a skilled therapist.

And it might be liberating just to try, once or twice, with no great expectations, to talk to your parents with a different image of them in mind as you do it.

They’re people. Possibly kind of stunted people who meant no harm but had no clue. People who might have interesting things to say if you asked them different questions, and/or with a different objective in mind. Not “I want them to say they’re sorry” or “I want just once for them to be warm and welcoming,” but maybe “I want to see them how their friends do,” or one of my favorite suggestions from a long-ago chatter, “I want to approach them as an anthropologist would and see what I find out.”
cereta: Laura Cereta (cereta)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Annie: I am 23 years old and have been dating "Tom" for two years. He works in a demanding job that requires an extensive amount of travel. He's away almost six months of the year.

When Tom isn't traveling, he's with me during the week, but spends most weekends going places with his fraternity or visiting his parents. This means for the six months he's in town, I get perhaps one weekend.

We are saving for a house, and Tom's constant recreational travel is cutting into our budget. I want our couple time back, as well as time to take care of things at home. I've suggested compromises (such as two weekends away and two weekends home), but things always come up that he "has to do." Two months ago, I was let go from my job. That same afternoon, Tom left on a trip with friends that could have easily been cancelled. I can't use those same weekends to visit my family because they are too far away, so I spend a lot of time sitting home alone.

I know nothing unsavory is going on. Tom is a wonderful guy. I have no intention of leaving him. I knew when we met that his job would require a lot of travel, but these personal weekends are difficult for me. I know he hates being inactive or staying home, but it seems excessive. How can we come up with a workable solution? -- Home Alone

Dear Home: Tom thinks he already has a workable solution and has no incentive to compromise. After all, he sees you all week. Right now, his schedule is a minor hardship for you, but if you marry and have children, it will be a major problem. You'll have to revisit this issue then.

Meanwhile, we are never in favor of sitting home alone moping. Please find things to occupy yourself during the weekends when Tom is absent. Look for part-time work. Take classes to bone up on your skills. Go biking. Accompany him when he visits his family, and get to know them better.
cereta: Laura Cereta (cereta)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR ABBY: My husband refuses to wear headphones. This means that when we sit in the living room together, I must put up with the blaring noise of whatever he is watching.

I do a lot of writing, and in order to think, I need silence. I have tried earplugs, but they don't muffle enough of the noise. Now, when I have had enough, I leave the room. This results in us being in two separate places, which he hates. Is there another solution I may be overlooking? -- LOUD IN MAINE

DEAR LOUD: You might try noise-canceling headphones. However, if that doesn't work, because you need to "hear" in your head the sentences you are trying to write, you may have to do your writing when your husband is not at home.
fairestcat: Dreadful the cat (Default)
[personal profile] fairestcat
I have cranio-facial hyperhidrosis, which means that I sweat (a lot) from my scalp and face. It doesn’t take much — the slightest exertion, hot/humid weather, or wearing a hardhat — to trigger sweat pouring down my face and soaking my hair. It’s really unpleasant and embarrassing.

I work in a factory environment and split my time between the office and the factory floor, and when I work on the floor (where it’s always warm because of the machinery, especially in the summer), I usually end up sweaty. When I go back to the office, I do my best to cool off and dry my face and hair, and I often wrap a scarf around my head to absorb the sweat. For some reason, people think this makes me look like a ninja warrior. I’m not making this up — many people (mostly from outside my department) have said this on numerous occasions, and they seem to think it is a hilarious observation. I have lost count of how many people have asked me, “Haha, are you a ninja warrior?” or simply stated, “Oh, you’re wearing your ninja headband today.”

How do I even respond to this? I am really self-conscious about my hyperhidrosis, and the “ninja warrior” comments make me feel like people are mocking me. I don’t understand why so many people think it’s hilarious, and I don’t think they mean to be hurtful, but they are. Once when I was having a particularly bad day and someone asked me if I was a ninja warrior, I replied, “No, and I don’t appreciate being made fun of.” She apologized so profusely that I felt terrible for mentioning it and I ended up apologizing to her. How can I get people to stop making these comments without hurting their feelings?


I really don’t think people are mocking you — this sounds like the kind of joking comment that people make as a way to establish camaraderie or warm feelings, especially since they don’t know it’s linked to a medical condition.

That’s probably why your coworker apologized so profusely; when you told her you felt she was making fun of you, she was likely mortified that you thought that when she intended just to be friendly.
But none of that means that you can’t ask for it to stop! Start say this to people who joke about it: “I know you’re just joking, but it’s for a medical condition.” Say it without smiling and in a serious tone. Most people will stop after hearing that. For anyone who doesn’t, say this: “Like I said, it’s for a medical condition. I really don’t like calling it that.”
cereta: Laura Cereta (cereta)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR ABBY: I recently got married to a wonderful man who is 19 years younger than I am. He's the love of my life. The problem is, he sleeps totally on one side of the bed and isn't affectionate at night except when we are making love. Then he is amazing -- affectionate, sensitive, and very attentive and kind.

He says his mother was very cold toward him, and he was reared by his grandparents, who loved him, but were not "touchy-feely." He treats me like a queen, Abby. Should I just forget about it and be content sleeping un-hugged and un-held all night? -- ON MY SIDE IN MARYLAND

DEAR ON YOUR SIDE: No, you should talk to your husband and explain what your needs are. Although the sex is wonderful, many people -- of both sexes, by the way -- need to feel the warmth of human contact. Because he treats you like a queen, tell him you need more, and perhaps he will make more of an effort on your side of the bed and outside the bedroom.
lilysea: Serious (Default)
[personal profile] lilysea
Dear Prudence,
 
This summer, I was lucky enough to see a famous musical. The show is not anywhere near my home, so a friend and I booked flights to the show. Fast-forward several months. We were thrilled to arrive at the play we had been vying to see for so long. As soon as the opening number began, however, she began singing along! Not full singing, but a loud enough whisper to draw the attention of nearly everyone seated around us. This was distracting to me because although I know all the lyrics, I was trying to pay attention to actors.

Upon intermission, I asked her if she noticed all the people seated in front of us turning around to stare at her and thereafter suggested that her whispering bothered them. She was shocked that this behavior would be considered rude and then stated that it was their problem. She proceeded with this through the end of the play. I’m shocked no other patrons confronted her. Based on this fact, I wonder if perhaps I am wrong and overly sensitive. Who is right?

Answer: Oh my God, you’re right. On no planet, no parallel dimension, is singing along with a musical from the audience considered good theatergoing etiquette. A few years ago a woman was thrown out of The Bodyguard musical for doing exactly what your friend did.

Obviously there’s nothing to be done about it now, aside from committing to never seeing a live musical with her again, but if you simply want the rush of being told you were right by a stranger on the internet, allow me to grant you that rush: You were right, and your friend was rude.

lilysea: Serious (Default)
[personal profile] lilysea
Dear Prudence, I recently attended a wedding of one of my husband’s college friends. He’s not someone that we see often, but we encounter him and his bride two or three times a year at parties, are friends on Facebook, etc. Anyways, I wore a blue dress to the ceremony, and it turns out that the bride’s wedding colors were royal blue. Her bridesmaids wore the color, the close family wore the color. I had no idea. Other than a wedding invitation, we never had any contact with them prior to the event since a summer BBQ where dress codes were not discussed. It seems that she casually told some of her friends not to wear blue, and I didn’t get the message. She was apparently horrified that I had worn “her color.” Another woman also wore blue and got the same treatment.

At the start of the reception, she stomped over and said very loudly that she couldn’t believe I had worn her color. It was really embarrassing, but it was her wedding day so I apologized, said that I had no idea and that the whole day was beautiful. She stomped off in a huff, and eventually her husband came over and said that she was really upset and that seeing my dress was detracting from her having fun. He wanted to know whether I could change. A friend loaned me a long black sweater and I put it on over the dress. Later, the bride pointed me out (while using a microphone) and said “she’s not invited.” Later in the night, she came up to me AGAIN to tell me how this had shattered her day. At this point, my patience was wearing a little thin. We said our goodbyes. This morning, I woke up to being tagged in a rant about guest etiquette on Facebook and an email from the groom asking me to apologize again. I responded, copying his wife, reiterating my original message in a bland way (sorry, I didn’t know. I appreciated them letting me know and hopefully wearing the world’s largest sweater had mitigated it. It was a lovely day. Have a nice life). This woman has gone from generically fine to totally unhinged in my book. We’re going to see them again at a BBQ in about a month (it’s at our house, otherwise I’d skip it). I’m wondering how to handle this situation, especially since I just got a call from a mutual friend saying that she called her sobbing about how this had really cast a pall over her day. At this point, I don’t want to fuel the fire or ever engage again, but I’m stumped—because she seems excited to have a dead horse to beat.

Answer:
Good Lord, this woman is grimly determined to be personally victimized by the color blue. It’s a little trickier to keep your distance as hosts than it would be as mere guests, but at least you always have the excuse of needing to check on the grill/cooler/new arrivals if you need to quickly escape her conversation. And, of course, if she or her husband try to drag up your mortal blue sin again, you can generically and cheerfully change the subject, excuse yourself, and make a mental note to disinvite these cranks from all future barbecues, cookouts, get-togethers, clambakes, and/or hootenannies. Do not apologize again, and do not entertain their future complaints. And, for your own sanity, mute or unfriend them on Facebook. Let all future rants about dress codes pass by you as th’idle wind, which you respect not.

 
lilysea: Serious (Default)
[personal profile] lilysea
Dear Prudence,
My sister and stepsister have always quarreled over every issue you can think of. My sister is a professional photographer and records almost every family function in spectacular style. My stepsister got married recently and decided to skip on paying a photographer since my sister always carries her camera. You guessed it: The photographs came out horribly—red eyes, blurry, and fuzzy. My stepsister had a fit and screamed at my sister. My sister said she had accidentally brought some bad lenses but since no one officially asked her to be the wedding photographer, she hadn’t had time to prepare. And it is true—no one asked my sister to be the wedding photographer or offered to pay her. However, my sister has since confessed to me over a bottle of wine that she deliberately chose a bad camera because my stepsister was a "cheap, selfish witch."

I am not sure what to do here. The entire fallout has most of my relatives talking about what a “bridezilla” my stepsister was. Even my stepmom apologized to my sister for her daughter’s behavior. Was my sister right? Should I say anything? - Not Picture Perfect

Dear Not Picture Perfect, I shouldn’t laugh. I won’t laugh. I’m not laughing now. Nothing about this situation is funny, and I’m going to take it very seriously. Here is my official ruling: Say nothing. There is nothing to be gained by telling your stepsister the truth, as you’ll only extend their ceaseless quarrel. What your sister did was passive-aggressive and mean-spirited, but your stepsister has learned an important lesson: If you want professional wedding photos, hire a professional photographer and pay them. Don’t ask someone you know hates you to do it for free at the last minute.
lilysea: Serious (Default)
[personal profile] lilysea
Dear Prudence, I used to be a professional baker in college and I continue to do it for friends and family. Two and a half years ago I did my cousin’s wedding cake but did not attend her wedding as I had small children at the time (it was adults only). I never got a thank you from her, written or otherwise, and my aunt even scolded me for not sending a gift! Rather than cause a fight, I sent my cousin a gift card and promptly knocked her and my aunt off the cake list. Every time they have asked, I have told them it wasn’t a good time or I was too busy. I have continued to make cakes for friends, co-workers, and other family. Only now my cousin is pregnant and wants me to do a cake at her baby shower—I told her no. Now my aunt and she are asking everyone why I hate my cousin and refuse to do the cake but will do it for strangers (I did a cake for a co-worker’s kid’s graduation). I want to strike back that I got thanked by those people but I don’t think it will be helpful. I can’t avoid them as we live in the same town and attend family events. Help! I don’t hate them but I don’t want to bake for them, what should I do? - Takes the cake

Dear Takes the cake,
Continue to not make your cousin a cake, and to meet rudeness and prying with cheerful non-engagement. “I love Rourthenay, but my schedule won’t permit it. Have you tried ordering a cake from [NONDESCRIPT CAKE EMPORIUM NO. 7]? I hear they do great work.” If your aunt wants to complain all over town that her niece won’t make her a free cake, let her; I don’t think she’s going to be met with a great deal of sympathy.
lilysea: Serious (Default)
[personal profile] lilysea
Dear Prudence,

My sister got married recently. Some weeks before the big day, she pulled me aside and asked me to dye my bright blue and purple hair a more innocuous color so that I wouldn’t stand out too much. She wouldn’t listen to reason as to how I love my hair, nor as to how the process of bringing it to a more natural color would be difficult, expensive, and damaging. At the suggestion of a friend, I invested in an excellent honey-brown human hair wig, similar to my actual hair texture and length. Her big day went off without a hitch, and she never even seemed to notice my “innocuous” hair. At the end of the reception, after nearly everyone had left and my family and I were helping tidy up, I removed the wig.


My sister freaked out. She’s still angry, and she says that I violated her trust and that for the rest of her life when she looks at her wedding pictures of the family together or of me in the background, she’ll know that there’s blue-and-purple hair under there, and it will infuriate her. I don’t see any problem with what I did. I didn’t want to change my hair color for ONE day in her life, and I even invested in a hairpiece specifically meant to give her peace of mind. I hadn’t considered telling her about the wig beforehand, simply because she was busy and, as long as I showed up with “normal” hair, it should have been fine. How am I in the wrong here? Did I owe it to my sister to actually color my hair for her wedding? I wasn’t even a bridesmaid.
- Sister Wigging Out

Dear Sister Wigging Out: I shouldn’t be laughing at this, but I can’t help myself. The idea of your sister, years from now, surrounded by her loving husband, children, and grandchildren, staring sadly at her wedding photo album, a wizened figure pointing at a picture of you as she whispers, “But underneath ... underneath it was all blue and purple,” just tickles me to death. Imagine how ridiculous your apology would have to sound: “Sorry the brown hair I wore to your wedding wasn’t permanent enough.” Refuse to let your sister’s temper tantrum affect you. You did a very nice thing by changing your appearance to suit her mood in the first place. The fact that she got married does not entitle her to dictate the color of your hair. If she brings it up again, tell her the photos were lovely. And if she commands you not just to wear contacts but to get laser eye surgery for the birth of her first child, stand your ground.

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