cereta: Laura Cereta (cereta)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Amy: I am a married woman. My husband and his younger sister are of a Mediterranean nationality. Family relationships are "closer" there, I think, than those in North America or Europe.

I was shocked to see my husband and his sister in our bathroom together. She was putting on makeup, he was brushing his teeth.

We were in a hurry to leave the house, but there was a half-bath downstairs that one of them could have used.

I have been in the bathroom with my own older brother, but it was to install new toilets -- something practical -- not to do something "intimate," that, in my opinion, is only for a husband and wife to share.

I felt very "strange" about this situation. Then it happened a second time. I have decided that if it happens again, I will join them in the bathroom and put on my makeup or brush my teeth with them to see if they understand that I'm disturbed by this situation.

-- Too Close!

Dear Too Close!: If brushing one's teeth or putting on makeup is considered an uncomfortably intimate act that only married partners should share, then we need to completely revamp sexual education in this country.

I don't think this is an ethnic thing or a national characteristic.

I think this is a "you" problem.

Taking your letter at face value, these two siblings were basically sharing a mirror.

Many siblings that grew up in close households and perhaps shared a bathroom with other family members throughout their childhoods wouldn't think twice about sharing their bathroom ablutions.

Because this bothers you so much, you should probably express your concern directly to these two, instead of passively trying to get your message across. But you should also anticipate some bewilderment on their part.
cereta: Laura Cereta (cereta)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Amy: My daughter and son-in-law are expecting their first child. My husband has a granddaughter, but this will be MY first grandchild. My husband and I have been together for more than 16 years and have helped raise each other’s children.

I love his granddaughter and I don’t want her feelings to be hurt by announcing on social media that I am expecting my first grandchild. She is 8 years old and knows that I am her father’s stepmother, but I still don’t want to hurt her. Whenever she comes over, my husband and I both spoil her (like grandparents should), but she has always favored her “Papa.”

The problem for me is that I am much younger than my husband, and I didn’t want my social media friends to think that I was old enough to have an 8-year-old grandchild.

How can I say that I am expecting my first grandchild without making her feel like she doesn’t count?

— Grandma to Be

Dear Grandma: I appreciate your sensitivity about this situation, but I have news for you — you are already a “Grandma.” You have been one for the past eight years, and for you to try to find a way to deny this now that you are about to have a “real” grandchild in your life is all about your own vanity.

Your young granddaughter wouldn’t be the only person surprised (and possibly hurt) by the revelation that she isn’t your grandchild. Her parents, especially the parent you “helped to raise,” would likely be quite wounded.

I could also venture a guess that the reason your granddaughter has always favored her “Papa” is because you are signaling to her in a variety of ways that she is a placeholder for the real grandchild who will someday come along and claim your heart.

I became a grandmother quite young — at least it seemed so at the time, because I wasn’t prepared for this life stage. But family comes to you in different ways and at different times, whether or not you’re ready (or “old enough”) for it.

And so now the thing to do is to take to social media to announce your joy at the birth of your second grandchild.
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?


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: Ellen from SPN, looking disapproving (Ellen)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Amy: My wife and I don't see eye to eye about what it means to have your spouse's back.

Our son is 21. He just had a baby with his girlfriend, who just turned 18. They live with her parents.

He left our house because he didn't want to live under our rules once he turned 18.

I spoke to the girlfriend's father, telling him not to let our son stay there. I wanted him to learn what it means to be out in the real world in order to humble him. Yet he let my son move in anyway, since he does whatever his wife and daughter tell him to do.

My wife and I both hate his girlfriend and the way she treats our son, but my wife plays along and is fake in her interactions with them just so she can stay in her son's life. I choose not to speak to them or set foot in their home.

My wife has now done both of those things, and I feel she's not showing loyalty to me. Is it too much to ask that she not set foot in their house? The other parents and I do not get along, and it has almost come to blows, yet my wife thinks it is OK to spend time in their home to see her son and grandson. The day of the baby's birth they were talking about me, but I just ignored it for my wife and son's sake. It was hard. My wife can't understand why I am upset about her being over there.

Am I right to feel like this — or am I being a jerk?
— Furious

Dear Furious: Because you asked, I will say that, yes, you are being a jerk. Yes, spouses should have each other's back. But here's the rub: You don't control the people in this drama. Your wife wants to have a relationship with her son and grandson. And because they evidently are not welcome in your home, she is doing what she needs to do to have that relationship.

You aren't willing to support her efforts, but you should understand her desire and "have her back" while she tries.

You cannot influence other people if you don't ever spend time with them. You say your son's girlfriend mistreats him, but she is there and you are not.

I don't believe that parents should let their children walk all over them, but the walls you have put up are too high to breach. I hope you will rethink your non-negotiables.
cereta: Baby Galapagos tortoise hiding in its shell (baby turtle)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Amy: My partner of eight years, “Joe,” feels that partners should not have any secrets between them, including allowing each other to view all communications.

I told him that I would never read his email or snail mail addressed only to him unless he asked me to read something specific.

He feels that partners should have absolutely nothing to hide from each other and therefore we should each be allowed to check out each other’s email whenever we want.

I totally disagree. On occasion, I receive emails sent in confidence that I prefer he not see. I would like to know your opinion, as well as input from your readership. — Respect My Privacy

Dear Privacy: I’m with you. There is a difference between secrecy and privacy, and I think it is completely legitimate to expect that email and U.S. mail addressed to you should not be read by your partner without your permission. Having privacy is not the same as proactively hiding something specific.

When couples go through a trauma like adultery, which leaves them with a serious legacy of mistrust, one way to deal with it is to completely open up all communication for scrutiny on demand. Unless the trust has been breached, there should be no need for such total transparency.
madripoor_rose: milkweed beetle on a leaf (Default)
[personal profile] madripoor_rose
Cut for length. And the flames on the sides of my face.

Read more... )
cereta: Captain Jack will get you high tonight (Captain Jack will get you high tonight)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Amy: My family has a long history of military service. Both my sons and my husband served in the Marines. One of our sons left and never came home. He made the ultimate sacrifice.

My daughter is seriously dating a physician.

Although her boyfriend is nice and respectful to us and appears to make her happy, whenever we look at him all we can see is his lack of military service. We also cannot help but think of our son.

Why should this young man get to go to school until his late 20s, get a job right away and live a totally comfortable and entitled life while other young men leave their families and never come home?

My daughter thinks he is wonderful and says we are being unfair toward anybody who is not in the military. We think her boyfriend is essentially throwing our family's sacrifice in our face by living in the lap of luxury.

My daughter wants us to meet his family, and we are unsure what we should do.

We cannot imagine having this man as our son-in-law and do not like the message he would send to future grandchildren, but we do not want to stop communicating with our daughter either.

Any suggestions?

— Military Mom

Dear Mom: Given your family's laudable culture of military service and the tragic loss you have experienced, it gives me no pleasure to tell you how very narrow-minded and even mean-spirited your views are.

You say that every member of your family has to be in the military, but is your daughter? And if not, I hope you don't judge her as harshly as you judge prospective (and future) family members.

Surely everyone in this country should have the right and the freedom to pursue whatever career path he or she chooses.

Every time I go to the hospital, I'm grateful that someone had the brains and talent to go to medical school. But that's immaterial.

If you have a serious problem with this man's character, you should share your concerns with him.

You should also pursue a veterans grief-support group to help you cope with your painful loss.
cereta: Lacey and Wendy (Lacey and Wendy)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Amy: I work in a medical clinic and would like to weigh in on the practice of people bringing friends with them to their appointments.

Unless another person is needed to help with medical issues, I find it very annoying for people to bring an entourage.

I have had patients bring five friends or relatives with them. It is disruptive.

People need to know: Your entourage will not be allowed in to watch you have your test done, so please don't ask. It is a medical test, not a live performance at the theater. — Annoyed Practitioner

Dear Annoyed: Well said.
cereta: Donna Noble (Donna)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Amy: My husband and I are devout Catholics. We have chosen to protect the innocence of our 7-year-old son by not educating him about the "facts of life" until he hits puberty.

We have told him that the Virgin Mary puts a baby on your doorstep if you pray for one. He is in a Catholic school, so we don't have to worry about "sexual education."

My sister knows about our choice, but she does not approve of it. She is pregnant. Recently, she wore a "Baby on Board" T-shirt when visiting.

Our son asked about it, but I did not know what to tell him! What should I do if a problem like this arises in the future?

— Worried Mom

Dear Mom: You could ask your son's teachers or clergy for guidance, but because you're asking me, I'll respond by asking you: Isn't an essential element of the drama of Jesus' birth that he was born of a human mother?

In the biblical version of "Baby on Board," wasn't Mary "great with child" when she and Joseph stumbled into Nazareth?

A baby isn't a newspaper, left on the doorstep by an omnipotent delivery person.

All animals and humans give birth to babies, and even if you don't want to explain how babies are conceived, it is both truthful and religiously defensible to tell your son that babies grow inside their mother's bodies (or "tummies") until they are born. If you want to fabricate the story of how they got there, go for it.


Agony Aunt

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