Advice for a woman who is a tentative godmother.

Advice on sticky friendship dilemmas.
July 27 2010 10:02 AM

Wary Godmother

Does it make sense to remain a child's spiritual adviser when you barely speak to his parents?

(Continued from Page 1)

As for your son, I suspect his tears have as much to do with the memory of temporarily losing his mommy as contemplating Gretchen's move away. That said, maybe you can organize a yearly visit for the two of them—or three, if you're feeling differently next year.

Friend or Foe


Dear Friend or Foe,

A few years ago, a friend, " Bill," who is an executive in his family's successful company, married an acquaintance, "Jill," who considers me a good friend, even though we disagree about everything. This would be fine if our differences revolved around movies or cuisine or other matters of taste, but they go far deeper. Jill prides herself on working 60 hours a week for a nonprofit and frequently criticizes her coworkers for leaving at the end of their contracted hours. At the same time, she believes herself entitled to an army of indentured servants.

When she goes back to work in a few months—she's currently on maternity leave—Jill's plan is to import a nanny from Asia or Latin America to whom she'll pay a measly $15,000 a year, plus room and board. To me, it's a gross violation of the labor laws to pay someone that little for the number of hours she'll be expected to work. I also think it's immoral to bring someone from abroad to undercut the already low wages in the child care sector. Jill is also homophobic and supports tax cuts, despite our relatively generous social-safety-net here in Canada.

Is there any way to remain friends? In case you couldn't guess, I'm a socialist (not a dirty word up north), and she's a conservative. We're also friends with a lot of the same people, so it will be impossible to avoid her completely.

Egalitarian and Expect Others To Be That Way, Too!


I'm with you: The way a friend treats her "help" says a lot about her as a person (not just her politics). If Jill can't be bothered to pay minimum wage to the woman (it's almost always a woman) who is going to essentially raise her child, it's hard to imagine her being generous with her heart. It sounds as if she and Bill make a ton of money. So you have to boil it down to plain old greediness, cheapness, the desire to game the system—call it what you, but it's unsavory.

It was a little surprising, of course, to hear Jill works at a nonprofit. But then, one possible right doesn't count for another, far more egregious wrong. If Jill wants to work 60 hours a week, that's her business. Exploiting young women from the developing world is everyone's problem. Or, at least, it should be. By the way, where is Bill in all this? Does he just sit back passively while Jill posts her "Great Opportunity" ads? You say he's the original friend here. Maybe you need to examine his worthiness, too. It's high time that daddies realized that organizing child care is their problem, too.

Friend or Foe

Please send your questions for publication to (Questions may be edited.)

Like DoubleX on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.