Tag Archives: parents

I’m on vacation. So here’s some vacation advice.

My boyfriend and I live together, but when we visit his extremely religious parents, they insist we sleep in separate bedrooms. This is ridiculous and I resent them forcing their religious beliefs on us. My boyfriend refuses to stand up to them on this issue and thinks I should just let it go, but I can’t.

One day, maybe you and your boyfriend will get married, and after a few years you’ll welcome the chance to sleep in different beds. It’ll be like an extra little vacation bonus. So just pretend you’re married, and stretch out your legs a little bit.

There’s no point in antagonizing them over this. Save it for something important, like when try to make you go to the 14th Annual 24-Hour Church-a-thon or baptize your baby in a fire pit.

When we travel with our young children, I get very tense on airplanes because I feel like they’re bothering the other passengers. I spend the entire flight trying to keep them busy and quiet, which, to tell the truth, is exhausting and stressful. On the other hand, my husband lets them bounce off the walls and carry on like we’re playing in the back yard and not enclosed in a small space with 200 other people. He says that part of air travel is putting up with other people, and that sometimes those other people are children. Who’s right?

You both are.

One time, before I had kids, I was stuck in a flight on the runway for an hour and forty-five minutes. For half of that time, I listened to the little girl behind me snap her gum until I thought my head was going to explode. I turned around, pointed my long, angry, finger at her, and hissed, “If I hear you snap your gum one more time I’m going to get you kicked off this plane.” She didn’t make a peep for the rest of the flight, except for a little sniffle now and again. Yes, I made her cry.

Now that I’m a parent, I realize that threatening small children is just as impolite as gum snapping. But seriously…where were this girls’ parents? It’s their job to make sure she’s behaving appropriately.

So I don’t think stressing over every outburst, shushing every cry, and running yourself ragged with your own on-board preschool program is a good idea. Your husband is right; kids are kids, and kids make noise. Maybe you can relax a little and your husband can pay a little more attention, and meet somewhere nice right in the middle.

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I sort of told my parents all kinds of horrible stuff about my wife.

My wife and I recently went through a difficult period in our marriage, and I leaned heavily on my parents for support. We’ve since worked through our problems, but I told my parents some things about my wife that I probably shouldn’t have, and now they’re cold to her, more critical than they used to be, and constantly questioning me about what’s going on in our lives. While I’m appreciative of their loyalty and the fact that they were there for me when I needed them, now I’m wondering if I didn’t make a mistake. Can I correct this somehow?

You’re wondering if you made a mistake. Um, yes! Yes, you did!

What’s wrong with you?

I see no problem with leaning on your family in hard times, and asking them for emotional support. But I’m guessing you did more than that. I’m guessing you called your mom crying on a Friday night after you discovered that Judy’s new job was not, in fact, managing a Friendly’s, but working as a lap dancer at Friendly’s Strip Club and Naked Disco.

It’s possible, you know, to mention that things are a little rocky without actually giving all the details. I’m sure your parents want you to be happy, but I’m also fairly sure they don’t want to know that the weekend everyone thought your wife was on a yoga retreat, she had actually run off to Puerto Rico with her sister’s husband.

From now on, keep your mouth shut. When your parents say disparaging things about Judy, be polite but make sure they know how much you love and respect your wife and how you’re really focusing on the positive now, and not dwelling on the past. Tell them often and enthusiastically how great she is, and mention a lot how she reads to the blind, delivers meals on wheels to shut-ins, and tutors homeless children after school.

And for Christ’s sake, keep your trap shut from now on.

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My stubborn dad thinks he’s immune to all disease.

My dad has a weird-looking skin discoloration on his face. I asked him about it and he got really annoyed and said he’d already asked the doctor about it. When I pointed out that he had asked a full year ago, and that the spot had since grown in size and changed in shape and color, he got mad and yelled at me to mind my own business. I feel like it is my business! How can I get him to go to the doctor?

You have two options.

1. Annoy him until the idea of skin cancer seems preferable to putting up with you for one more second. Send emails, greeting cards, and video messages. Leave voice mails several times a day. Sign him up for melanoma email newsletters and fax him pictures of cancerous growths. Do you have a mom? Is she annoying? Get her to pester him, too. I’m sure she’s good at it. Siblings also work well for this. He might get mad, but everyone has his breaking point, and I’m sure you’ve spent a sizable portion of your life bugging the shit out of him, so you know how to push his buttons.

2. Blackmail.

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Why set your sights high when you can flounder in the middle?

I recently applied to grad school with mixed results.  Instead of commiserating and trying to encourage me to stay positive, my dad is making not-so-thinly-veiled comments that this school was never for me in the first place and that I should give up.  How do I tell him to stick it?

I’m really happy for you that you’re not asking, “Is he right? Should I stop striving to achieve my goals and instead wallow in mediocrity until I’m a middle-aged former shell of myself who eats Snoballs by the case and cries myself to sleep every night?”

You could ignore your dad completely. Every time he passive-aggressively hints that you’re not smart/motivated/competent enough for grad school, put a big crazy smile on your face and say, “HOW ABOUT THEM RED SOX?” This could frighten him into stopping.

Or, you could brightly say, “Thanks for your support! It’s so comforting to know you’re there for me during the tough times.” He’ll get confused and stop, eventually. (While you say this, pretend you’re talking to a nice dad. Or you could make a paper-bag-puppet dad and whip it out of your pocket and talk to it whenever your real dad pisses you off. Make sure you do this in front of him or it’ll lose all significance.)

Or, you could just say, “Suck it, Dad.” This might start a fight but I’m fairly sure it’ll stop his ham-handed hinting.

Another option is to realize that nothing you do is going to change him. For whatever reason, he can’t find it in himself to encourage you…but this doesn’t mean you’re not worthy of encouraging. You said you got mixed results, which means some of them were good, which means you’re on your way. I know someone who applied to medical school every spring for years until he got in. Between applications, he took classes, worked hard, studied for his standardized tests, and never lost sight of what he wanted.

Your dad’s approval may mean the world to you, but he’s not the deciding factor in whether or not you succeed. Accept your hurt feelings, realize he’s got some kind of issue that prevents him from wanting to see you do well in this case, and go study your ass off.

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WWCD?

I have recently become a born-again Christian. This has been something very personal and important to me. I was Jewish and my parents are the typical Jewish parents. For the longest time I wrestled with telling them at all. I decided to tell my mother. She said among other things, how “deeply disappointed” she was. I have not as yet told my father.

So here is the dilemma…I will be getting married soon. I’m not comfortable with my parents attending a Christian service if they have problems with me, certainly setting a mood for me as well on a very important day. Should I invite them to the wedding?

My parents are super Catholic. One time I mentioned to them that I might like to go to the Episcopalian church, instead, and they reacted as if I’d just told them I wanted to worship Satan and eat babies for breakfast. I can imagine, then, that this is incredibly difficult for your parents. It might help you to think about how they’re feeling. I know it’s important to you that they approve of you, but really, it’s okay if they don’t. I disappoint my parents about 400 times a day and I am completely confident that they still love me.

I think you would be unwise to heap more drama on top of an already difficult situation. Imagine, please, that you’re at your wedding. Everyone you love is there…except for your parents. I think their absence would cause more discomfort than their presence.

So invite them. It’s the kind, loving thing to do. Whether or not they come is up to them, but at least you can feel like you did the right thing. I’m not well versed in bible verses, but I’m sure there’s one about inviting your parents to your wedding even though they don’t even believe in your bible.

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I think my boyfriend secretly wants to make out with my mom.

I think my boyfriend is flirting with my mom and it’s freaking me out. Sometimes they even email each other, and it makes me jealous. He’s naturally flirty, though, and my mom loves attention, so maybe I’m just reading into it. On the other hand, it’s not like we’re kids. My boyfriend and I are in our 30s and my mom is on the young side. They should both know better. Should I say something?

Let’s start with your boyfriend, since he’s easier to deal with. (I’m going to assume that you’re not normally the jealous type who flips out and wants to tear a girl’s hair out for accidentally looking at your boyfriend.)

Something he’s doing is skeeving you out, and he should stop. So it’s perfectly reasonable to say, “It makes me uncomfortable when you tell my mom her ass looks good in those pants.” Or, “I don’t like it when you lick your ice cream cone that way and then wiggle your eyebrows at my mother.” Or whatever specific thing he’s doing that suggests he’s flirting.

If he’s nice and understanding about it, and reassures you that he’s only saying those things and emailing her because he loves YOU and just wants to get on her good side for YOUR sake, then great. If he flips out and accuses you of being ridiculous or paranoid or controlling or jealous, you might want to think for a second about this: he’s a douche bag, he doesn’t care about your feelings, he’s being wildly inappropriate, and you should break up with him.

As far as your mom is concerned, you can’t really get rid of her. So do one of the following: 1.) Be passive-aggressive and make a joke about it, then glare at her and hope she gets the point and knocks it off. 2.) Don’t say anything, swallow your anger and resentment, and eventually when your head explodes and you have to go into therapy, talk about it there. 3.) Be firm but gentle. Tell her you don’t like it when she makes kitty claws and meows at him, or asks him if he’ll rub suntan lotion on her back and says, “I wish my boobs were on my back.” And whatever her response to you is, just be pleasant and ignore any insistence that it’s all in your head.

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