Carolyn Hax Live: Advice columnist tackles your problems (Friday, March 8)

Mar 08, 2013

In her daily column in The Washington Post Style section, Carolyn Hax offers readers advice based on the experiences of someone who's been there. Hax is an ex-repatriated New Englander with a liberal arts degree and a lot of opinions and that's about it, really, when you get right down to it. Oh, and the shoes. A lot of shoes.

Carolyn was online Friday, March 8, at Noon ET, taking your questions and comments about her current advice column and any other questions you might have about the strange train we call life. Her answers may appear online or in an upcoming column.

E-mail Carolyn at

Got more to say? Check out Carolyn's discussion group, Hax-Philes. Comments submitted to the chat may be used in the discussion group.

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Hi everybody, happy Friday.

For those in D.C. who are wondering where their snow went, I have it up here. (You can have it, truly--I won't mind.)


Here's the link again (link) for signing up to have my column emailed to you at 7 every morning.

I know some people had touble with it last week; I'm told the bugs have been fixed. If you still have a problem, sign out of the WaPo web site, then hit the link; you'll be prompted to sign back in. A nuisance but it worked for me.


And ...

Since I was off last week, I wasn't able to announce in this chat the winner of Nick Galifianakis's Valentine's Day Caption Contest. Here you go: (link).

I think that's it for announcements. As always, you can subscribe to the Carolyn Hax page on Facebook (link), and for those who want to see updates without FB, or take an off-topic discussion out of the comments thread (please?) and start a separate conversation, or create a poll, there's the new Hax Forum (link). I do not, however, have plans to open a cupcake shop. (Too 2000's.) But I do plan to do other Date Labs (link). 

I have a pragmatic consideration for the woman who "expects" her husband to come to every medical appointment. It is NOT medically necessary for him to be at these appointments. Assuming he has a regular job, it is probably not a good idea for him to use up all his leave and workplace goodwill attending non-medically necessary doctor's appointments to humor his wife. He may need that leave time and goodwill later in the pregnancy or during the first couple of years after the baby arrives. For most parents, its just not possible to do EVERYTHING together. As a mom, she is a grownup now and needs to learn to do things without her husband there holding her hand for every routine appointment. Also -- just in case -- saying "we are" pregnant is just obnoxious.

I had a problem with her "expects," as I indicated in my answer, I think, but I'm actually a believer in the joint appointment, and I don't think that makes me insufficiently grown up. For one thing, sometimes the news coming out of these appointments is bad. Yes, I can handle it if I'm alone the day they fail to pick up a heartbeat, but I don't want to have to. I also don't want to be alone the day they pick up--holy crap--two heartbeats. Being in the moment together, be it a joyous one, or sad, or just plain ordinary, is beautiful, and also sets a useful precedent: There's not "your part" and "my part," theirs "ours."

Now, if time off work is a huge issue and priorities must be established, then, yes, the routine appointment doesn't make the cut. And, again, it works when togetherness is chosen, not forced. 

As for "we are pregnant," I used to feel the same way, but now I agree more in a linguistic-fussiness way than an oh-barf way, for the same reason: A mutual, togetherness mindset is something to cheer for. I just wish they'd say "We're expecting," for the aforesaid fussiness reasons.

I know you had a recent column about a husband who thought his size 14 wife was overweight. Unlike that situation, my wife of 20 years, is 5'2 and approximately 170 lbs. Her weight is mostly in the dangerous stomach area. My wife used to be quite athletic, but no matter what I try to interest her in, whether walks, bike rides, etc., she usually replies, "next week." She is on several medications for high blood pressure, etc. I love her so very much, but I have no idea what I can do to help her. The times I have mentioned a diet we could do together, and how I am worried about her health, have ended up with her becoming angry and defensive. There seems to be sort of hurdle she can't get over to begin helping herself. I know she reads your column and respects your advice. I find her as beautiful as the day we met years ago, but I am so worried that is killing herself with inactivity and food. Thank you so much.

This is the answer no one wants to hear, but your wife has chosen this path, and you cannot force her off it, even if it's hurtling her toward a premature death.

There are things you can try, of course, and it sounds as if you've tried them all, for all the right reasons--promoting exercise-related couple time and eating  better together are the two best, for sure. Yet even they take you no further than the line where it becomes her choice.

The best (and of course worst) thing I can advise is to accept that this is her path, and to find whatever way possible to enjoy your time with her as-is. If indeed she does shorten her life with her choices, then you won't want your last X years with her to have been a continuous argument about diet and exercise.

Hi - Engagement fell through months ago for a variety of very good (though still very sudden and shocking) reasons that just weren't clear before we were engaged. I've since relocated and spent a good bit wallowing, but then turned the corner. I have great friends, family, health, education-- life's good, I'll be OK. I managed to reconnect with an old friend who seemed interested in more... and he's just an incredible person. It's possible it's the best rebound ever, or there's a whole lot more here. I'm trying my darndest to take it day by day, pretty slow, be honest, and fingers crossed no one gets hurt. Fine. The problem? As much as I'm trying to get over the engagement, my family's really not. They're still angry and a little bitter (mostly at the ex) and dealing with their own feelings of loss/change and even months later there's no way I could bring new-dude home. It seems fast, I agree, but I'm very close with my family and it seems weird to manufacture distance in the name of more time or not really disclose how much I like this guy. There are also a few events coming up in that would be great ways for new-dude to meet my extended family. (Note, new-dude knows my backstory and I also have no idea if he'd even be up for a big family gathering, another good question.) Why is this so hard? Am I just rebounding? And should I leave the family out of it? They've had enough heartache too...

So this is mostly about not wanting to spring the new guy on your family, for your family's sake?

If I've read this correctly, then my advice is to carry on with your life on your schedule and let your family manage whatever they need to manage. It is not your job to present your life to them in a way that orchestrates their feelings just so. Introduce New Dude to your family, bring him to events if you want, deal with their concerns or questions respectfully but from a proper distance. It's not their life, it's yours.

The part of your question that's about whether you're rebounding, you've already answered as well as it can be answered. Move slowly, maintain a healthy skepticism, see where you end up.

A little mom passed away 4 years ago and my dad started dating someone about 6 months later. I was fine with him dating because he seemed happy so I got to know her and gave her a chance. Personality wise, she gets on my nerves but bottom line is I just don't trust her - I think she's only with my dad for his money. He's not rich but he's comfortable and she doesn't have 2 pennies to rub together. So on to my issue... A few months ago, dad's GF asked if she could buy my car and then I could get a new one. I said no because I didn't want a car payment. I thought it was over, but recently I was at the house and she followed me outside, telling me that she had "been working on my dad all week" to buy me a new car so she could have mine. I was so taken aback that I didn't say anything, but the more I thought about it, the more mad I got. I never told her I couldn't afford a new car, I told her I didn't want one. I don't need my father to by me a car and I certainly wouldn't let him. So here's my question - do I say something to my dad or let it go unless she brings it up again?

Stay out of it. Your role in this is simply not to sell/hand over your car--a pretty easy one, considering how complicated these things can get. Since you didn't answer her on the spot, you can also go back to her and state clearly what you said here--that you didn't say you couldn't afford a new car, you said you didn't want one. 

If you're finding it difficult to resist the urge to jump in and tell your dad what you think, then please remember: Your staying out of it means the girlfriend will have no obstacles to being herself. Isn't that what you want--for your dad to see her true colors, good or bad, so he can decide about her for himself?

Hi Carolyn, My husband has three sisters, two older and one younger. His oldest sister is on the bossy side and typically arranges family gatherings. During our wedding planning and wedding it was pretty clear to me that she was used to getting her way. I am usually a good communicator and good at picking battles, so I figured I could handle her. My husband and I purchased a new house in January and offered to host Easter so everybody could see our new place. Since then, his sister has made our lives very difficult. She comes over to our house suggesting total overhauls of rooms and gave me a menu -- most of the items she is planning on bringing, claiming that "you don't know how our family does things yet." My husband tried being blunt with her "we are hosting this holiday and are happy to see you then. But until then, let us do it our way." She sends daily emails dictating all sorts of things. She also doesn't want one of the brothers to bring his girlfriend because they "haven't been dating long enough to share holidays." She is out of control, and I don't know how to deal with her. Evidently her husband and my in-laws let her get her way because it is easier. I don't want to either let her get her way or fight with her about every side dish for the rest of my life. How do I balance this?

Your husband was blunt with her; what he "tried" to do was make the sister's pressure and meddling stop by being blunt with her.

At this point, it appears as if you and your husband both need ot accept that the pressure will come no matter what you do, so stopping it isn't a realistic goal. A goal that is realistic is to host this gathering the way you want to, no matter what Bossie says.

You can achieve that by pushing back whenever she pushes, but that sounds exhausting and needlessly high-conflict. You can also just decline to engage her and do what you were planning to do all along. E.g., she suggests room overhauls (I love that one--is she paying the bill?), and you say, "Hm, interesting," and do not a thing to your rooms. She suggests side dishes and you say, "Thanks for the suggestion." She declares that the new girlfriend isn't welcome, and you say, "You think so? Hmm," and invite the new girlfriend anyway. The emails, you can ignore. (Or respond to selectively--if she says five things in an email, you can deal with one in your response and just not mention the rest.)

You can do this because you have two things in your favor: your house and your husband. You can invite whom you want, serve what you want, and present a unified front against whatever fit Bossy decides to pitch. She can react by making a lot of noise, of course, and even by trying to turn the family against you, but if you stay calm and firm and welcoming, she probably will have little leverage--at least not enough to overcome her own history of anoying the heck out of the very people she's trying to get on her side.


I met a man through an on-line dating service several months ago. We dated for a couple of months, for a total of four dates, but we also talked on the phone fairly frequently. Some of the things he said and did I perceived to be red flags. Probably they would not seem to be red flags to most women. However, I was in an abusive relationship in college, and since then have done fairly well for myself and am happily single, so my "are you better off with him or without him" scale is tipped heavily in favor of "without." Anyway, I broke up with him. "X's" behavior since has not led me to believe I made a poor decision. He sent flowers and a gift with a note that I was the most important person in his life (really? after four dates?). But what troubles me is that X has since joined my favorite Meet-up group. X was not a member of this group before we broke up, and knows I am (or was) an active member; he was scheduled to go to a meeting with me as my plus-one just before we broke up. I know for a fact X is not at all interested in the focus of the group (he teased me mildly about it), but it's a particularly easy interest to fake. Even though we live on the opposite ends of town, X goes to the meetings that are closest to my house, and not the ones that are nearest to his. I talked to the group leader, and she said there's nothing she can do. I have not been to any events since he joined the group. I really don't want to give up this group, as there are several colleagues from work who attend. X has attended several meetings, and has failed to "go postal." In fact, he seems like he's been the life of the party, taking pictures and posting them on the internet, which we rarely bothered with before. I would have no problem continuing in the group with an "ordinary" ex, but since the reason I broke up with X was because of perceived red flags, I'm rather hesitant to continue. What are your (and the peanuts') thoughts?

I think it's a bummer this guy's suspicious behavior has cost you time with a group you care about, but you're doing the right thing by staying away. I also think the picture-posting, life-of-the-party stuff actually makes more sense than the idea that he would have "gone postal," since the public pictures could easily be his way of saying to you, "See? I'm going to make you pay for dumping me. I'm going to take away people you care about." 

Maybe that's an overreaction, too, but you want your error to be one of excessive caution, not insufficient.

So, yeah, find a new group, and in the meantime (re)read "The Gift of Fear." 

Hi Carolyn, I really don't like dancing - at all. I inevitably end up at parties/weddings where people incessantly try to 'get me to dance', and they tend not to shut up about it. Then it gets awkward. Any tips? Thanks! Any tips?

Every once in a while I'll be pushed to do something I don't want, and I've found it helps to envision someone you -know- wouldn't get pushed like that. Even if it's a fictional person, like Col. Jessup in "A Few Good Men." Channeling some of that back-the-bleep-off quality can be surprisingly effective. 

Or you can just point out that you'd rather listen to their insufferable badgering than dance, and that has to mean something. Good luck.

Hi Carolyn - Thank you for the great work you do - I never miss your column, but I haven't seen this topic yet. I have a 25 year old transgendered son, was female, now becoming male, who is taking testosterone, and, because of this, I think, gets angry to the extreme and cuts me out of his life when he is upset by something I said or did. This is the third time this has happened over a fairly minor incident. It's like he's hitting a second adolescence. I always apologize for my part in the misunderstanding, and ask for time to talk this through, but I get slammed with a "I will NOT be disrespected, so I am through with you." I understand that this is a time of transition, but the emotional toll is growing larger, and my patience is dwindling. I don't like being shut out like this. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks so much.

Thanks for the kind words. 

If you aren't plugged into a PFLAG chapter (link), that's where I suggest you start. Talk to people who have been through a loved one's transition, so you can benefit from their experience in sorting out what is going to pass (and therefore demands merely patience) and what is a reflection of your relationship with your son (and therefore demands a thoughtful change to your own behavior, possibly guided by a well-qualified therapist).

I got through college without any debt, I know that's odd. I have a truly wonderful woman I am currently involved with and given a perfect world would like to marry have kids and get old with, but for the whole debt thing. After undergrad and law school the 150k+ in debt is a flashing red neon stop sign in my eyes, especially given the rewarding in ways other than money law career she is embarking on. It's not that she's fiscally irresponsible, it's just that I am going to end up paying back the lion's share of it, it's going to delay all the things I'd like to do, and while I love her I just can't help but see the 500 pound gorilla in the room. I like to think i'm a generous guy and love conquers all, but does it?

Love conquers only what falls within the limits of your generosity. I can't answer this for you, but I can say that if I were this truly wonderful woman, I could see myself getting annoyed at your assumption that you'd "end up paying back the lion's share of it," since I was the one who took on the debt, fully expecting to pay it back without your help. (I also might be miffed that I was being reduced to a dollar value, but I think I'd get over that faster than I would the assumption.)

If you think she'd expect you to tackle her debt for her, or to carry the whole of your household expenses while she chipped away at it, then that's something else to think about beyond just the debt.

And ... if instead the issue is that she prepared herself to live a spartan existence when she chose to incur this debt, and you have no interest in that kind of life, and therefore--you reason--you'd effectively be paying for her share of any luxuries you don't want to live without, then that's something else again.

So, predictably, there are issues of character and values embedded in this; it's not just about money vs. love. It's still your call, of course, and it's still ultimately about the strength of your feelings for this woman, but I think you'll make a better decision if you first consider what your choices and expectations say about you both.

Hi Carolyn, Thursday's column really spoke to me. My ex-boyfriend and I both agreed upon a no contact rule when we split so we could both heal and move on. The break-up was amicable enough - we split because he was uncertain about his career path and wanted time to figure out what he wants career-wise and if he even wanted a life partner, and didn't want to waste my time (I'm 30 and desire a family) while he figures those things out. I think that was a good decision - I've moved on emotionally and invested in myself (got into running - training for 5K, taking foreign language lessons, reconnected with friends, trying to make new ones, and planning a couple of long weekends in visiting new cities). Now I'd really like to try reconnecting with my ex. - not necessarily to reconcile (though I wouldn't rule it out in the future) but just re-establish contact as friends. But I'm not sure how to do it... it's been six months since he and I split. People keep telling me that even an innocent text, email, phone call of "hey, how's it going? it's been a while thought it'd be nice to catch up" will inevitably come off looking and sounding desperate. What would you suggest/recommend?

If you want to be in touch, then try to be in touch. If you want to appear a certain way so as to secure a certain outcome, then think carefully about 1. what you want that outcome to be, 2. why you think appearances are so important to that outcome, and 3. what the point is if you can't just be yourself. 

Upshot: Does it really matter, "looking and sounding desperate"? 


A long distance friend recently lost their young son rather suddenly. We will be traveling for the services, and I am trying to decide whether I should have my two children, ages 8 and 11, attend with us. They have met the child a couple of times but don't really remember him. They have only been to a couple of funeral services, and never for somebody so young. I worry this might be too intense for them, then I worry I am just being overprotective and trying to shield them from one of life's inevitable realities. I also wonder if the family would rather not have to deal with all their peers' children being there. What do you think?

I'm sorry, that's terrible.

I think, culturally, an arm's-length relationship with death is a disservice to us all. As for the effect their peers' children might have on the grieving family, I don't think it's possible to project. My inclination is to have everyone there to pay respects who can be trusted to behave. So, squirmy toddler, maybe not, but 8 and 11 who can sit still, yes. Nutterati thoughts encouraged.

My spouse recently started playing a computer game again. I really don't mind my spouse playing these games, but I feel like it is starting to interfere with our life and my happiness (I know that sounds selfish). The playing starts sometimes right after dinner and when I try to ask for help with bath/bedtime for our 3 young children, I get snippy replies back. When one of our kids tries to get attention, the kids get an equally snippy response. the gaming goes on until sometime 1-2am, and then when morning rolls around and we are both trying to get to work, I am the one who dresses, feeds, and (sometimes) get a shower. Since spouse is too tired from staying up so late, I am the one always up early on the weekends too. It is really wearing me down. I talked about it one evening and said I thought the game was more important than me, and things got better for a few days, but now its back to the same old routine. It is really wearing me down. I don't want to be a nag, I know we all need our "me" time, but aside from deciding to leave since I basically do it all on my own anyway, I am at a loss as to where to start this conversation again.

"I really don't mind my spouse playing these games"; "(I know that sounds selfish)"; "I don't want to be a nag, I know we all need our 'me' time"?!?!?!?

Oh my goodness. Your spouse has completely abdicated marital and parental responsibilities, and you're tiptoeing around it as if it's asking a huge favor for him/her to take part in the life you've built together.

I urge you to find a good, reputable therapist to help you figure out why you feel so uncomfortable asking for what is rightfully yours. 

At the same, you need to have a sit-down, kids-are-elsewhere-with-family-or-a-sitter conversation about the fact that you will not stand for being the only one who cares about and for the kids and the household, and the game must go. Forget the whole "the game was more important than me" thread--that's putting yourself at the center when it's just about the game. The game is more important than everything else in Spouse's life, and there's no practical difference between this and his/her making, say, alcohol the center of h/h personal universe. You wouldn't be saying, "You're entitled to your 'me' time," if Spouse were drinking from after dinner to the wee hours, and sleeping it off every morning while you took care of the kids.

Spouse has proven self incapable of bathing the kids, putting them to bed, spending alone time with you and then playing for an hour before s/he puts himself to bed--though you can certainly offer the, "Prove to me you can limit this to an hour a day and I'll back off" option before pulling the emergency brake.

Should that fail, then s/he is not entitled to bring this life-wrecker into the home you share. period. If s/he refuses to quit, then you bring Spouse to counseling (if s/he'll go) and start preparing yourself for a single-parent life (either way). 

Don't skip the part about solo counseling. You'll need a clear sense of self in taking this on. 


Back in December, my apartment was robbed. As the robber left, they made sure all doors and windows were locked (and these are bolt locks, meaning you need a key), so I believe it was my landlord or someone close to him. Given that, I couldn't stay there, but I had no in-state support, and no desire to move to Ohio where all my family lives. Given the options of homelessness, moving out of state, or living in a place where a robber apparently had access to a key, I opted to move in with my boyfriend. Except it was only temporary, and we weren't that serious yet. Now I've been approved for a new place, and he's sulking about me moving out. How can I do damage control here?

I'm inclined to say not to do any at all. Move out, be genuine in your interaction with him, be clear in your intentions and natural in your affection. He'll either be able to adjust and come along with you on these new terms, or he won't. 

Hi Carolyn, My boyfriend and I have been together for over two years, and have been living together for a while. I've come to realize that he has a number of insecurities about his appearance, intelligence, etc... He is handsome, smart, hardworking, and successful, but he often compares himself to others and thinks he falls short. I'm really glad he feels comfortable enough with me to open up and I don't want to jeopardize that. I always tell him what I believe and encourage positive behaviors. However, I worry about the possible effects of his insecurities (feeling badly about himself, worrying about his image, needing validation) on his overall happiness and on our relationship. I love him and am committed to making this relationship work, and I know he feels the same, but changing insecurities is really hard, and I know it's out of my control anyway. Any suggestions?! Thanks!

Every healthy person has insecurities, or at least an awareness of shorcomings by comparison with others; the person to avoid is the one who looks around the room and truly believes no one there has anything more to offer the world than s/he does.


So the issue with your BF is not that he compares himself unfavorably to others, it's that such comparisons occupy more of his consciousness than is good for his mood, and is useful or, well, interesting to you.

And it's also a problem that he continues to look for outside validation even though it isn't the answer, or else he'd be plenty confident right now.

I'm spelling this out because I think the only useful thing for you to be committed to at this point is the sum total of the facts. Do you enjoy his company as-is, or do you often think how much more you'd enjoy it if he'd stop dissing himself? Do you like building him up, or are you tired of pumping up his ego to no avail? 

If you'd vote with the latter in both cases, then you need to be more honest in your words and actions. For example: "I wouldn't stand for a friend saying things like that about you, and I don't enjoy hear you say them about yourself." Or, choosing not to pump him up with "You're not dumb" or whatever else he needs you say, and instead saying, "We all have millions, possibly billions of people who are better than we are at something. What's your point?" I get how confrontational that sounds, and it is to a degree, but there are ways to say it gently, thereby conveying the message that you see this as a dead-end topic. 

Essentially what I'm suggesting is that you keep being a source of companionship and love, but stop being the bandaid for his insecurities. See how he responds to that, and also see how you feel about him and about the relationship after making this subtle but significant change to your role in it.

I should have done the past couple of answers in takes--sorry about the long gaps. Are people in the Turntable room? That at least would mean there's "hold" music. 

I recently found a posting for a fellowship that I might stand a chance at getting! Since the deadline is at the end of this month, I rushed to ask my dissertation adviser if he would provide me with a written reference, and he agreed. Years ago I had an internship at a position similar to this recent posting, and I just found out that my former supervisor (who was in a significant position of power then) now works at a (huge) organization affiliated with the (huge) organization to which I am applying. He would have absolutely no say in hiring me, doesn't work in the same sort of division to which I will apply, and isn't in a position of great power, but I think he might be a better choice as reference. I can only have one person serve as a reference; both would write positive things. Can I withdraw my request from my adviser, or is that terrible form? Is there a polite way to do this? Thanks

I don't think the "years ago" recommendation is one you want; if the dissertation adviser is someone who is familiar with your present day work, stick with that rec. Karla Miller, are you out there? What do you think?

I need to take 5 min--people are here to work on my home and there's hockey gear everywhere ( thought they were coming at 3:30 ...).

All better. Thanks for your patience.

Original LW here, as I read my own post I come off as kind of a jerk, well more of a jerk than i meant to, its hard to write a short letter and cover everything you think is pertinent. We have had some discussion about this since I proposed and found out about "the number" , I'm not assuming that I'll have to pay for most of it, I am basically being told that's her plan for our money, to pay down her debt before we have kids, etc. Except when she says it, it's our debt and I get goose bumps and start worrying that I am a starter husband whose expire by date is the termination of the loan payments. Which is silly, but irrational isn't always deniable. The last discussion was a little heated, and maybe I do need to rethink what other plan there is, but it just felt like 150k was being piled on my back and it is conflicting with my genuine love for my fiance. thanks for answering what is basically me just thinking out loud anonymously.

"I am basically being told that's her plan for our money"--I wouldn't discount this, or call your worry that you're a starter husband "silly." I would have a big problem if my fiance essentially dictated to me that WE were going to pay down his debt before getting on with the rest of a particular life plan. It's not that that's not sound--it could be exactly what makes the most sense--it's the expectation.

If it were my debt, again, I'd presumably have had a plan all along to dispose of it on my own, and I'd start by offering to stick to that plan--spelling out that doing so would necessarily shift the burden of paying for any extras for our joint lives onto my intended. If my intended then said, "Your debt will become ours when we marry, so we should come up with a plan together," then I'd feel welcome to start suggesting alternatives. 

Right? That's not an unreasonable way to look at it?


I would suggest bringing them with to attend the funeral, though with a caveat. You know your kids so if you think they would not be good candidates to behave appropriately and respectfully during this difficult time for the grieving family, then perhaps reconsidering bringing your children might be a good idea. The reason that I suggest bringing them is because I think people tend to have an arm's length relationship to the subject of death. While death is always a difficult and sad one, sometimes complicated by family or relationship dynamics, it is a most inevitable one. Being an adult doesn't make us better able to deal with death (of a loved one or an acquaintance). I think it presents a good opportunity for you as a parent to talk about death with your children (giving out as much information or reeling in, depending upon how much you think they can handle and process at their age(s). Even the death of a young person, which is always premature, is a possibility, no matter who or where we are.

Thanks. Another:

At that age, I think you can also ask your children what they would want. This is someone they don't know well (either the child who died or his/her parents), so I don't think it is necessarily shielding them from death (I don't go to random funerals either--only if I know the deceased or his/her loved ones). If you have a realistic option for them other than this funeral, present them with the options and ask their opinion.


may also check with friends/family to see if OK to bring kids. I went to a memorial service for a 2-year old who died in a tragic accident. Word went out that the couple specifically requested no kids at the memorial as the pain was too raw still...

Thoughtful suggestion for the unthinkable, thanks.

If you have any good friends in the meet up, whom you also trust to be discreet, you may also want them to report back if Creeper X is asking about you. And, he may try to find another way to be around you since you're not going to the meet up. Probably best to keep your guard up for a bit and watch out for him popping up in other venues.

Good point, thanks.

My partner is trans and I've known quite a few folks who have transitioned. This mom should know it's very common for someone who is transitioning and taking hormones to go through sort of a "second adolescence", which can be just as emotional and wild as the first time around!

Thanks so much--a couple of posts have said this.

I wouldn't want to go exercise with my husband if the reason was he thought I was out of shape. If the reason was that he liked my company, or there were interesting things to see on the walk, I wouldn't want to miss out. I think it's how you frame it. I exercise because I want to go on adventure. The fact that it helps me lose weight is something I try not to think about because I have found it just puts a layer of anxiety on an otherwise fun activity.

Fair enough, but there's a point at which we're asking way too much of our loved ones, in expecting them to serve us their feelings in the one perfectly shaped and flavored form that we're willing to find palatable.

Worrying about your health is caring about your company, since the person wants you to live. Isn't it better for both of you just to set aside your huffies and go for the damn walk?

Why can't the poster at least clarify for her father that she simply does not WANT a new car at all? That seems reasonable. Just a simple "Hey, dad, GF mentioned this to me and said she'd talked to you. I don't want a new car right now, and I'm perfectly capable of purchasing one when I do want it." Am I missing something? That way she's not touching the relationship or her trust issues with the GF, just stating a fact so that dad doesn't go out and buy something expensive.

Oh, right, that works, thanks. I was thinking in terms of poster saying, "Your GF is all over me about this car," etc. 

Better yet, you may need to set the ground rules a little more thoroughly than "don't work on my dad to buy me a car". "Don't try to get my dad to do anything for me that I have not asked him for myself please. Thank you." You really want to cut the whole head off rather than this particular tentacle. It's not that just that you don't want a new car - you don't want to be used by her as the avenue via which she asks your dad for things that are theoretically for you which are really for herself. Address the whole problem.

Right again, thanks for the catches.

I am a university professor. I would not be disappointed or offended if a student no longer needed me to spend a portion of my upcoming spring break (otherwise filled with grading and research) writing a letter of recommendation. I know they are important, but they are NOT fun to write.

Ha. Thanks.

Keep your dissertation adviser as your reference. Mention on your cover letter your internship as a way to show you've been interested in this position all along. The second your previous internship adviser writes "Their great, but I haven't worked with them in X years," you'll be hosed and people will wonder why you didn't choose your adviser to write a letter.

Exactly what I was thinking, thanks.

Don't take the kids, and here's why. This funeral isn't for the woman who asked the question. It is for her friend (and the family of her friend). If the kids had known the dead child well, then I'd be giving a totally different answer (take the kids, they need the closure). But since they didn't, the woman needs to go as support for her friend, and having kids (even really behaved ones) will cut into that. I agree that we distance death way too much most of the time, but I'm not sure this is the right moment for the lesson. Unless she is 100% sure that she can devote the time to her friend at the funeral (and the reception thereafter if there is one) then I'd leave the kids behind. Unfortunately, there will likely be other funeral opportunities for them.

I did think about this, especially as the comments came in, since it started to sound as if the funeral was a teachable moment. That's not what I intended; I was merely speaking agianst the inverse, the idea of keeping kids away to protect them. 

These kids knew the child. Yes, they don't remember well, but I took it as a sign that the families were friends to a degree, which would point to bringing the family. 

There's no right answer, there's just "Go to show support" and "Don't bring anyone who can't or won't be part of that single mission of showing support." The rest I think we've covered with these thoughtful contributions, thanks.


That's it for today. Thanks everyone, have a great weekend and I'll see you here again next Friday, I hope.

Hope this might be helpful to others as well as myself - if I submitted a question and it wasnt answered, is it appropriate to resubmit next week, etc? Or is it more correct to conclude that either you chose not to answer it? Or that its still out there, and could be answered in a future week without additional noodging?


I would encourage you to submit your question again next week. We get so many questions in this chat that it's  hard to go through them all, and even if we do see it, Carolyn can only get to a small handful. You can also get your questions answered in the Hax forum by other readers. Thanks!

P.S. - Here's a tip about submitting questions: While we do need important details, please try and keep your questions as compact as possible. If there is too much detail, I will sometimes skip over it (not send it to Carolyn) because we don't have enough time to try and narrow it down to a reasonable length.

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Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997 as a weekly feature for The Washington Post, accompanied by the work of "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis. The column has since gone daily and into syndication, where it appears in over 200 newspapers. Carolyn joined The Post in 1992 as a copy editor in Style, and became a news editor before turning to writing full-time. She is the author of "Tell Me About It" (Miramax, 2001), and the host of a live online discussion on Fridays at noon on She lives in New England with her husband and their three boys.

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