Carolyn Hax Live (July 24)

Jul 24, 2020

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax took your comments about her current advice column and questions about the strange train we call life. Her answers may appear online or in an upcoming column.

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Heeeeeeeeere's whatever.

 

Hi.

Hi Carolyn- A co-worker was diagnosed with a 100% fatal degenerative brain disease last year. I was emailing with one of his close colleagues today and asked about him. Apparently he cannot handle email any more but enjoys getting cards and notes. What the heck do you write on a card in this case? "Thinking of you" and just signing my name sounds lame to me, but that is the only thing I can think of. He's not someone I am close to but saw every day and would chat with occasionally.

I'm sorry--that's tough news and tough to navigate. You're in the in-between place of caring but not close. 

You're on to the right idea with the thinking-of-you card, even though it feels like a weak effort. It doesn't need to be poetry, it just needs to say you care. So, start with the "I was so sorry to hear the news" and then add something personal: "I always enjoyed our exchanges and I miss seeing you around the office." You can do this.

Something to consider:  You can also do more, which might , counterintuitively, make the original task easier. Instead of writing One Card for the Ages, plan to write, say, a card a week/fortnight/month. Use every little scrap of what you know about this person. "I know you followed the NHL, and so I thought of you when I sawthis"--and enclose a printout. Even if it's more than he's able to read, it's a distraction and a notch in the caring column. 

 

Hello, I have a 10 y.o. daughter who loves legos. She has built a world covering the (small) amount of open space in her room. There is an open-air market, a variety of vehicles (from Star Wars ships to RV to snowmobile to self-created things with wheels), and two extensive emergency bed areas. There are also some platform things with steps (not sure what they are). There are probably 30-40 people, and every time one of them falls/gets knocked over/loses an appendage the paramedics come and bring them to the hospital, and she does extensive building/healing/whatever to get them back to the game. ANYway... I was Rug Doctoring the house. She refused to move her legos, and I told her that if she didn't, someone else would. She cried hysterically, I moved them, some of them got broken. I told her that going forward we will be vacuuming her room on a weekly basis, and the legos will be moved every time. Now she cries, gets angry at me, acts nasty, etc. every time it's brought up, or even when I am around and she is playing with her legos. I will stick to my guns (OMG she sounds like such a spoiled brat based on this, but I swear this is not how she normally is!), but how do I get through this? I have told her that if she can come up with a good alternate solution/compromise, we can talk. She is an only child, her other parent and I are divorced, and she keeps all her legos here (there is a pretty wild dog at her other house). Thanks!

=:-O

Here's the new headline:

Parent Won't Lay Off Cleaning Up Legos Thing

It's her thing! It's also creative to the nth, and the world around her has gone to hell, so for the love of blockheads please leave *her* creative refuge intact. 

If the rug is to the point of inviting vermin, then teach her to clean herself, carefully, with a wand attachment.

I am trying to be encouraging here but I am incensed that you're calling her a "spoiled brat" over this. She is a child. She's coping. Stop using your brute parental force to undermine her. I expect she will stop acting out as soon as you do.

I'm the original LW who wrote about getting pregnant with my ex and feeling lonely after the fact. I saw the rerun today and the comments (ouch) and I wanted to update/clarify some things: Around the time we had broken up, I was found to have early markers of ovarian cancer. I have the BRCA1 gene and already underwent a double mastectomy, but even though I had no ovarian tumors my doctors were recommending that I have both my ovaries taken out. At that time, my fiance had just broken up with me a few weeks before; I called him crying and told him what was happening, and it was he who suggested that he get me pregnant before I undergo the procedure. I got pregnant under the supervision of my doctor, even though we were also physically intimate at that time. I had a C-section in March, right around the when the pandemic hit, and I had my uterus and ovaries removed at the same time. This is why I said my ex was being compassionate. If I didn't have a baby with him, I wouldn't be able to have a baby going forward. I am forever grateful to him. I'm doing well now. I'm sheltering in place with my baby, who's the sweetest little thing anyone could ask for. I'm lucky in that I can work from home and I have friends and family who support me. I do miss my ex, but my little guy keeps me from dwelling on that too much. He's attempted to call/text me but I told him I wasn't ready to be friends yet. He and his new girlfriend are doing well so far as I'm aware. Thanks for all the well wishes and thank you for your advice. And to the commenters, please, a little kindness. There are always things you don't know about the LWs.

Thank you for the update, congratulations, and I'm glad you're all doing well.

I take your point about the commentary--using any form of remote communication, we all need to be deliberately mindful there's a human being at the other end of our words--but I also think your medical situation was a huge piece of information to hold back from the original question. It might not have changed any minds, but, certainly when I read it, I had an "Ahhh" moment--the urgency of it all and the "compassion" angle finally had a logical explanation. 

There's always going to be the matter of my tight word count to navigate, and I rule out questions immediately now when they're too long for a column, but I beg all writers to err on the side of adding vs. withholding. Thanks--and congrats--again.

From last week, found in the queue after I had signed off:

Timeline person back again

I think he has in his own ways tried to say that he is not quite ready for a conversation about permanence, yet. And I know I am ramping up a lot of anxiety about the future because right now I can't make any plans for the future (because of COVID), and I want to plan him into my future. Our leases are both up around November/December and I'd like us to move in together after that since we will have been together for a year. He says we should wait and see how things are between us at that point before deciding. I'm fine with waiting, but he wants to wait until the last possible minute before my lease is up when I know my apartment will be asking me in September to make a decision. And September is coming fast. He also has told me that if we do not move in together in December, he'll move away from the area... which would basically mean we break up. I told him recently I would not be ok with waiting until the last minute, and I would have to make some decisions and they may not include him. My ultimate fear is that we would move in- together, and then he still takes his time after that because of his self-declaration of "being stubborn". Then, I'm back to square one and i'm a year older. I guess I am willing to be patient, but what I'd like to hear in return is that he will get out of his own way and not drag his feet. Just like you said. Thank you.

I'm not sure if this will look weird when I post it, as if I'm answering my own Q, but I wanted to come back to this--speaking of having all the germane information.

Here is the original QA from last week: LINK

My follow-up advice:

Please see that the relationship's forward momentum is all you at this point, all from your pushing. It's not going to serve you well to keep that up. And I'm not even suggesting he's not interested in you, or not interested enough--it's just that you've taken out of his hands entirely his ability to live and love you at his own pace. 

Your age and fertility are valid concerns, as I said last week--but long-term. They don't give you license, now, to override your potential partner's natural falling-in-love (or not-falling) process.

So please just stop talking about leases. Live your life. Breathe. If September comes and you have no new information on your living plans, then re-up your lease. Better to wind up with an apartment you don't need than a relationship you over-managed.

None of this changes what I said last week, that I'm forehead-sore from his refusal/inability to recognize he needs to address his timeline more thoughtfully. But you need to start living your life and listening for your own answers that come to you naturally, instead of extracting them from him before he's ready to give them.

My daughter recently revealed to me that she is bisexual. I was supportive and thanked her for trusting me with her revelation. She seemed relieved, but shared that she is not comfortable telling her father (my husband)- understandable since he will not likely handle it so well. We have both been concerned for a while that something is bothering her, making her uncomfortable around us. Now that (I think) I know what the "something" is, I'm feeling better, though still aware that her mental health risk is higher for many reasons, including feeling the need to remain closeted. My husband is worried and perplexed, and I feel stuck in the middle- glad she shared, wanting to respect that it's her news to share, concerned for my husband and what will happen if/when she tells him. Do I encourage her to tell him? Test him with impersonal hypotheticals? Play dumb at the revelation? Family therapy? Other? --Guarding the Closet

How you define "not likely handle it so well" is so crucial, I don't think I can answer you without it. And, how old is your daughter? Is she still living in your home, with both parents?

Are you here to answer these?

If not, then please contact PFLAG so you can talk this through. Or the Trevor Project, LINK.

How would she not need her apartment if she renewed the lease? Are you actually just assuming that everyone has enough money to cover two leases? Hey, Timeline - if you actually have $$$ for two leases, break up with your guy and give me your number.

Ugh.

They're already covering two leases. His and hers. This would just mean doing so beyond the point they decide to live together, if that does happen organically, which, yes, will feel like wasted money but still be better than forcing things emotionally. And that's before even looking into the possibilities of breaking the lease or subletting. 

And if it doesn't organically lead to their cohabiting, then she still has her home.

Sheesh.

The timeline OP seems overly focused on time and not nearly enough on the behavior, values expressed and exhibited, and other determinants of whether or not the relationship is one that will sustain both partners. You don't wait a month or a year just to wait a month or a year, and then you're ready. You wait a month or a year to give you the opportunity to pay attention to who your partner is and who the two of you are together. If the OP is thinking marriage already when they're still getting to know each other, and the OP isn't liking some important parts of what she's seeing, I wonder why she is so focused on getting to some self-imposed next stage when they haven't yet successfully gotten through the current stage.

There's that.

I agree with Carolyn that I did not see brat. I saw a 10 year old into Star Wars and Medicine and that would be beautiful at anytime. However play acting rescuing and caring for people needing medical care sounds extra lovely during a pandemic. You could try steering her into writing letters/drawing pictures for residents of a nursing home stuck inside but I would not discourage her current activities one bit.

I would invite OP to look at this way. When you are old and need cared for in a hospital bed or ugly recliner on the first floor of a house because you can't do stairs anymore, do you want a daughter who welcomes you to take up her living room space and lovingly takes care of you--or one who was taught she needs to keep things super clean and looking nice above all else and therefore tells you that she can't manage having you move in?

I'm getting a ton of responses to this question, and I like this one for its view down the road. Seems right on point. Thank you. 

She's 14. He is not violent, actually a quiet gentle person, but very conservative.

Then I think you talk to your daughter again about giving him a chance not to take this badly. Bring her with you to a therapist first, if feasible,  to give your daughter a place to talk freely if there's tension and she needs an outlet. Or if any of you needs one.

But I think it's important, when you're not dealing with an otherwise harmful person, to avoid keeping secrets in a family. 

The resources I posted are good places to talk through this idea.

I hope he surprises you with his flexibility.

Please see this as the declaration of selfishness that it is -- or at least the declaration that he's going to keep stalling. "I'm stubborn -- that's just the way I am" is the eye-rollingest lame excuse ever. "OK, I don't put up with stubbornness -- that's just the way I am" has equal weight.

This child has created a small world that includes *emergency services* for when of her Lego "people" are broken. She has found a way to cope with the uncertainty and fear almost all of us are overwhelmed by. Perhaps your way of coping is to take control, whether by cleaning or trying to control people around you. It's time to lay off and find better ways to manage your issues before you do any more emotional damage to your child.

Thanks. And I would add, to the "find better ways to manage" suggestion, the idea that OP is overwhelmed too, and may need outside support, a therapist or a group or a break.

When a new person complains about the many off-topic comments posted beneath the letter you choose for the day's column, the "regulars" bash the person and go on and on about how you approve of their behavior and even "encourage" it. Is that true? I find the recipes and other off-topic comments boring. Do you and your editors really want a place where an in-group dominates the discussion and bullies and drives away those who want to talk about the day's topic?

The Post and I don't encourage it, we've accommodated it--with the OT button, so "regulars" can talk about recipes-- ticking the OT box--and just-the-column readers can filter them out. It's not perfect, but it's close enough for a little grace to bridge the gap.

I don't condone bashing. I have a rule for myself, which I admit upfront I don't adhere to perfectly, that I save my full wrath for people behaving with cruelty or selfish disregard and *without any willingness to admit to that.* As in, not just someone who does something I disagree with. It's a fine line but I am committed to walking it. If spelling it out will help keep the comments from becoming a slugfest, then have at it.

My DIL is looking at a job about a 3 1/2 hour car ride away from her parents and other family. Her parents are trying to guilt her into not moving, blaming even the thought of moving on my son (which she denies and she has told them this). She is struggling with this and asks for my help. I have told her that it is their decision (hers and my son's) any other suggestions as to what to say?

Have you asked her what kind of help she wants?

If it's validation, then tell her you'll give her all you have.

If it's to talk to her family for her, then I think you say you're willing to have difficult conversations, sure--but that she and your son are autonomous, competent adults who don't need a spokesinlaw to legitimize what they do. (Plus, you could make things worse, drawing more unwarranted blame to your son.)

If it's just an ear, then, sure! You will gladly listen as she works through the difficult feelings out loud.

Because pulling away from a family's guilt tentacles is really hard. The whole reason they have suction is that she was successfully groomed to see herself as beholden to them and their feelings. Once you believe it's your job to make other people happy, it's hard on a deep emotional level to go through your days knowing you disappointed someone important. 

That she's willing to consider this move, and that she's standing up to them when they try to blame your son, says she's finding her own emotional footing on her own values. The best thing you can do at this point is be a safe place for her when she feels conflicted.

A lot of my friends use filters or editing software before they post pictures on social media. It doesn't bother me too much, but I do think it's kind of funny. I wonder what is the point of editing your picture if people are going to see what you look like in real life? Well, recently a friend posted a picture of the two of us on social media. It was clear to me that she edited the picture. My skin looked amazing! My eyes looked greener, and I looked a lot younger. I got a lot of compliments on my picture and that bothered me. I think I look great for my age (mid-40s), but the picture is not what I look like now. It's more a reflection of what I looked like 5-10 years ago. It's silly, but I feel like participating in this sort of thing contributes to women having unrealistic beauty standards. I don't want anyone to think I am ashamed of aging or that I am trying to present a fake image. I want to ask her to delete the picture, but then I will have to explain why. I know she will not like my reasons. Am I being ridiculous?

"Ridiculous" is a tough word, and I don't disagree with the larger arguments you make, but I do think this is the kind of problem best dealt with by starving it of any more attention. 

Actually, I do have one quibble: You ask, "what is the point ... if people are going to see what you look like in real life?"--but I think our brains process photos and real people very differently. If there's an enormous gap between pic and reality, then people might think, "Hmm," but generally I believe people in person register in a more forgiving part of our brains than photo-people do, so there's no great undoing of an impression previously drawn from a photograph. So we, male and female, might as well take our moments to look awesome where we can. FWIW. 

A few days ago I ran into my ex-husband, who I have not seen in 20 years, at one of those big stores that sells everything under the sun. I was with my teenaged children, who know about him, and my husband. He was with a woman and a child whom I think was his daughter. It was very awkward, but we said hello and made some small talk, and I introduced my family to him, and told them that he was my ex-husband. The little girl expressed surprise at the way I introduced him, and he quickly walked away with them, giving me a very dirty parting look. Did I do anything wrong?

Nope.

Is it that she is uncomfortable telling her father or that she doesn't want him to know? Maybe you could tell him, with her permission, of course. When my son came out, he told me first and I just asked him if he wanted me to share that news with anybody for him and/or not tell anybody specifically. He said he wanted to tell his sibling himself, but could I please share the news with his father. I did. Everybody was fine. There are all sorts of communication paths for *her* to choose coming out, and she might want you to share part of that.

Yes, thanks--if the other parent tells, then that allows Dad to have his possibly not warm reaction safely away from the daughter. There's a lot to be said for sparing people the raw first response--especially sparing a 14-year-old, who might carry that unpleasant memory farther than an adult would.

I think the OP is more than justified in asking the person who edited the pic not to do that in the future. She can be breezy about it -- "Hey, looks like you put a filter on my pic -- no worries this time, but can you not do that next time? It's not really my thing." If a conversation ensues, it can be kept respectful, but OP does have the right to her own image.

This is a good way to handle it, thanks, and you're right about her right to her own image, though I still personally would leave it be.

When my husband was terminally ill, my ongoing ask of people was for ANY kind of contact. Visits were the gold standard, but emails, phone calls, letters and cards, that was all great. Even near the end, people mentioned things they remembered from their shared past, the latest political idiocy, what was happening on Better Call Saul. Also: send the letters and say that the person doesn't have to respond, that you'll keep sending them anyway. And then do it.

My in-laws loved me for myself in ways my parents never did. My mother in-law's support and sympathy when my parents were out of line kept me sane. They are long gone, but every year I do something quietly special on my mother in-law's birthday. Your daughter in-law will appreciate your love and support for ever.

Years ago, when there was a thing going around to post your celebrity doppleganger as your picture on Facebook, I did so. A few months later, my mom mentioned what a great picture that was of me. (! a compliment..or upsetting that my own mother didn't recognize me, take your pick. ) I laughed and told her it wasn't me, that it was this celebrity. She thought for a few minutes and then said, well, it was a really nice picture. Still makes me smile...

Seriously, you looked like a star.

I have an eighth grader who will be doing online school in the fall. I will be working at home and supervising her, but she is pretty independent and responsible, and I am not too concerned about how it will go, as it went pretty well in the spring. My sister is a single mom, and her son is also an eighth grade, and he and my daughter get along well, so she has asked if she can leave him with me to supervise while she works. She cannot work at home. Here is the thing. I love my nephew and he is a great kid, and I don't mind watching him, but I know my sister does not really follow the socially distancing protocols, at least not the way I do. First, she works very close to a lot of people, and I don't blame her for that, but she also parties quite a bit, and has continued to do so. I get she is very social and is okay with her risk taking behaviors, but I am older and more risk averse, and my family and I have pretty much been quarantining since March. We do get out some, but only in ways that we can avoid crowds and spend time outside. For example, we went to the beach and are going to the mountains, but in the context of socially distancing. When I expressed my concerns to my sister about the need to socially distance if she wants to leave her son with us, she was offended and accused me of being insensitive to her single mom, working class condition. I also offered to keep nephew for the fall, with the caveat that he would quarantine with us and that his mom could visit via zoom, but that was unacceptable as well. Do you have suggestions? It has become a point of contention in the family in which I am being framed as some kind of elite snob who only cares about my own family, and has no regard for the needs of others.

I'm sorry. You were more than accommodating--offering to take him for the fall!--plus, assessing someone's risk (of her partying, for example) is not the same thing as judging someone. It sounds like the law of good deeds applies here.

There's really nothing you can do except stick to your logic and to the terms of your offers. He either comes for school days while she socially distances (which pretty obviously won't happen, so I guess it's good she got angry enough to be honest), or he stays with you full-time, or you can't help her.

The idea that you're showing "no regard for the needs of others" is a canard, btw, since, if you get sick, then you'll be useless in serving your sister's needs. 

Again--you can only make your best judgment in assessing risk. And join me cursing those who politicized this crisis to serve their own selfish ends.

I've always found humor to be best, even in these situations and a lot of times humor can be derived from honesty. "I realize we're not normally "send a card type friends" close but I've heard you enjoy them so just consider this a nod of the head or friendly "what's up" like when I pass you in the hall at work." And for what it's worth, when sending condolences or other sad occasion notes like this one, most people don't care so much what you say, it's the gesture that makes them feel better.

Pitch-perfect, thanks.

For the person who thinks sharing recipes is boring, I suggest a second look. Commenting on the late, lamented Achenblog was my first foray into social media. Many of those folks became my friends in real life, as in I've visited them and we keep up through email and Facebook. I'm in North Carolina. Earlier in the week, I was subjected to harsh comments on Facebook from someone who disagrees with me politically. Those who came to my defense were Achenbloggers from all over North America - SC, DC, MN, and even Alberta. It was heartwarming! Don't think virtual connections can't be as enduring as those face-to-face. It's been 15 years and we're still together. I hope you can find your way into the Hax community too.

Oh I loved Achenblog. Lurking, obv. 

I hope people always can find their way into the community, too, and I urge people coming at it from both sides to apply grace to the process liberally: oldcomers resist the urge to get defensive of the way they do things, and newcomers resist the urge to eye-roll people who want to talk about socks.

Traffic jam, when you're already late ...

I just wrote out a whole answer and then changed my mind and deleted it, then my wifi connection crashed and I had to reload the chat. 

So. Hi! Welcome me back. Sorry.

We wanted one more baby (for a total of two), but found out we're having twins! O-M-freaking-G. I've spent the past two weeks, since getting the news, in a state of absolute shock and amplified first trimester symptoms, which are making it really hard for me to perform my daily basic functions (full time job and parenting). And even though we wanted our son to have a sibling, I can't shake the feeling that we are ruining his life, if temporarily. Somewhere deep down I know I will love these babies, and that I will be able to feel excited, but it's all so...daunting and scary right now. Not to mention that I can barely get out of bed, though with our childcare provider being paid to stay home I absolutely have to. Any words of wisdom to help me get through the next few weeks, as the news settles in further and (hopefully!) excitement starts building?

I think all the twins had by my closest friends were okayyyy-maybe-just-one-more-child pregnancies. Ha ha. JK, says Life, except it's not.

You have a child already, so you've already seen up close how little say you get in how stuff turns out even in your own household and family. Think of this news as your double-refresher.

You will get the hang of however this turns out just as you would have gotten the hang of whatever else you would have gotten that wasn't at all like you imagined it would have been. Because it was never going to be as you imagined it anyway.

Don't beat yourself up for the panic, it's normal. Just laugh where you can and get some rest where you can. Congrats. When you're on your own, you soothe two squalling babies sequentially--don't even bother trying both at once. There's my pro tip.

"There's a lot to be said for sparing people the raw first response--especially sparing a 14-year-old, who might carry that unpleasant memory farther than an adult would." This. Oh so much this. My brother came out to my mom 25+ years ago as a young 20-something and her reaction was less than ideal. Tears of grief for his not being able to give her grandchildren, mostly. Since that time she has been nothing but supportive and loving of him and his husband, but that initial reaction has stuck with, and wounded him, ever since. As a parent of teens (including a bisexual daughter), I think it would be an incredible gift to both your husband and your daughter if you can absorb your husband's reaction to your daughter's news. Let him process it without her as a witness, so that (hopefully!) all she has to see is a dad who loves and supports her.

Not everyone can afford to these days (or any other time), but sometimes a thing is easier than a note because the note with the thing can just be "I thought you would like these." I sent flowers to a great aunt who had cancer, but I did it for Easter when I might have done it anyway. And it was a year after she was diagnosed, so a lot of people had dropped off the send flowers wagon at that time. And I knew for a fact that she would like them. And it was a lot easier to say, "Happy Spring. I hope you like these," than, "I'm sorry that mom says you are getting worse and will probably die soon." I was too far away to visit. I send an assortment of jams to a colleague at a former job who helped me buy his company car as it came off its lease. I didn't know for sure that he would like them, but it seemed the right thing after he had let me visit his house and took me for a test drive and introduced me to his wife. He just seemed a frugal sort, and European, so some small, higher quality than normal food items seemed right. I don't spend a ton on these things, but sometimes it just works out to be easier to have something to write about.

I think the Lego question drew the most comments of anything I've ever posted. Only one siding with the OP that the reaction makes child sound spoiled.

I say this not to pile on OP, but because something that overwhelmingly decisive seems worth mentioning. OP, if you're still out there, I do hope you will consider talking to someone, taking a breath, thinking about self-care.

I inherited the box of unused family postcards going all the way back to the 50s. My parents discouraged our childhood spending on tourist junk and instead had us choose a post card and over the years they accumulated. A few years ago a family member was in a nursing home and i sent him a couple of post cards when i was on a big trip. He wife told me he loved them and would show them to all the other residents. So when i got home i started writing him a card every night. You can’t say much on a post card so i would just say today i did the grocery shopping, or whatever snippet of daily life had occurred. One day a card might be a castle in France, or a market in Turkey or a parking lot in Cleveland Ohio. He loved the connection to normal daily life and all the photos. But also I had a great time reliving all the memories of family trips. Occasionally I told friends and next thing I knew they would send me a packet of their crazy old family cards. It turned out to be a lot of fun. Since then I’ve sent these post cards to others who were sick and every one begged me not to stop.

I send a card every week or so to my HS friends father who is in assisted living. I’ve never met him, he loves animals so I send pics of my dog, or the Buffalo at Custer State Park SD. I write whatever pops in my head that day. Just fun to do!

Both the chat interface and my brain are showing signs of dysfunction at this point, so I'll sign off. Bye, thanks, have a great weekend and I'll type to you here next week. (I will try to post some more comments if I can get the site to take them.)

Articles, jokes, etc. would also be good for those isolated in care facilities as a result of the pandemic.

My dad told me something last week that resonated with me in a way so much other advice and information hasn't. I've been getting so angry at little things - the boring comments that are off-topic or that wasn't marked off-topic, or my neighbor who has to come out every time there's any commotion or package delivered to see what's going on. I was getting so angry. My dad said: who do you admire more? The person who gets angry at every little thing and makes an argument and fuss, or the person who smiles and says "oh its ok!" and makes life a little easier? It's all within reason of course, but perhaps with the off-topic comments or anything else, it's easier to say "hey it's not a problem to scroll a little bit further down!" instead of getting angry about it. (CAVEAT - not saying the original poster was angry, just saying that from my point of view and how I was experiencing a lot of things)

People can surprise you. Friend of mine is gay. His grandparents are VERY conservative, and he was afraid of them finding out about him. He asked his mom to "feel them out" about it. His grandfather figured it out and said, "Is he happy? That's all I need to know."

I actually am not a huge fan of off topic comments, but I can see why people like them and they're allowed under the posting rules. I struggle with people who think that their preferences should rule everything, especially when there's a compromise in place that tries to accommodate everyone. And I can understand people being frustrated by having to hear the same thing over and over again when it's in the posting rules.

In case people don't know where it is: The off-topic box is above the blue bar that says POST. That's to mark your own comment as OT. To filter out OT posts from the thread, look below the blue POST bar to "Viewing Options" (drop-down menu). Choosing "oldest first" also helps.  

And, amen to this: "I struggle with people who think that their preferences should rule everything."

Regulars know about the ability to hide off topic comments but from what I have seen I suspect some of the complainers do not. Since regulars and off topic people are mostly likely to know about the filter, I wonder if it would help if you had to opt into seeing Off Topic comments with the default being not seeing them. Just a thought.

Ooh. Idea. Thanks.

You mean moral relativism, right? Because if this guy has any change if heart, it's only because it affects him personally, not because it's the right thing to do. You may call that a win. I do not.

I call it a step toward the right thing to do. Whatever wakes someone up is fine by me.

https://www.lettersagainstisolation.com/ is an amazing resource to connect seniors in long term care settings with volunteers who want to send letters and cards

A friend of mine had one child I will call Pat who is high on the 'wanting attention' scale and had been an only child for more than a minute so was used to a lot of parental attention. I can't speak for the parents but I wondered how Pat would do when twin babies showed up. I am happy to report that Pat saw the babies as two more people to pay attention to Pat (versus seeing less attention from the parents despite that obviously occuring) and was very enterprising in finding way to interact with and play with babies, then older babies etc. etc. The parents presented the twins as a happy event and Pat was as happy about it as the parents and I were. So go ahead and shake that "feeling that we are ruining his life".

So great, thanks.

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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 washingtonpost.com. She lives in New England with her husband and their three boys.
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