Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
July 29 2004 12:28 PM

Fetus Envy

How to handle your pregnancy around friends who are still trying.

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Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click here to sign up. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Dear Prudence,

I am a newlywed, and my husband and I just found out that we are expecting our first child early next year. We are absolutely elated, but there is one thing gnawing at me. My oldest and dearest friend has been trying to start a family for more than a year. While part of me can't wait to tell her my news, I am unclear about how to approach the topic. We are both in our late 20s now and have been close friends since high school. We've always talked to one another about everything (including the ordeal of trying to conceive), and to make a long story short, it would break my heart for our relationship to change. I fully intend for my child to know her (and her family) as part of our family. How can I best tell her my news while being considerate of her feelings?

—Baby on Board

Dear Babe,

Your sensitivity to your friend's fertility issues will carry the day. Of course you must tell her your good news, but add that your happiness could only have been enhanced had the stork been planning a visit to her, as well. Tell her that she is your choice for godmother, you are hoping for a close relationship between her and the baby, and your wish is that your little one will be a "rehearsal" for her own.

—Prudie, embracingly

Dear Prudence,

I am bringing my fiance home to meet my family for Thanksgiving. I adore my mother and stepfather—they are both gracious and charming, and I am sure that everyone will get along famously. The thing is that my mother is a terrible housekeeper—filthy in the corners, refrigerator a horror, etc. Especially disturbing is that the bathroom we will be using looks like it's never been scrubbed. My mom is a person who just does not put a high priority on housecleaning. I know there would be no way to ask her to clean the bathroom before we get there. She has gotten offended in the past when I've gotten out the cleaning supplies during my visits, so how do I brace my fiance? She is a charming, lovely person, but I admit I am a bit embarrassed. Please advise.

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—Spic and Span

Dear S and S,

If you had not said that your mother had been offended when you, yourself, got busy with the cleaning supplies, Prudie would have suggested—as a "gift," of course—a cleaning service to herald your arrival. Your mother's idiosyncrasy, however, that neither she nor anyone else bow to bourgeois notions of keeping house leaves you no choice but to go with gracious and charming ... and throw in peculiar. Explain all this to your beloved and, perhaps just for this visit, decide that graciousness is next to godliness. Since people returning home for turkey time generally stay no longer than three days, humor and understanding will get you through this. (And perhaps smuggle in some contraband cleanser, disinfectant, and a sponge.)

—Prudie, practically

Dear Prudie,

I'm pushing 40 fast. I've lived a great life (self-centered but great). Here's the deal. I'm finally ready to settle down and have kids (the new midlife crisis definition), and an old flame has popped up, BUT I've been dating a real nice guy for almost a year—reliable, boring, has faults, etc., but he definitely loves me. He's just not sure he's "ready to settle down." But I know I'm heading toward menopause, so if I don't get on it now, it may be impossible. Problem: Just had my 20-year class reunion, where my old flame's name came up and I hear he is divorced. I know he's looking for me. How many men can tell you what you were wearing the first time you met, 20 years later? We even had an affair for five years while he was married. I called it off because he wouldn't get a divorce to be with me—though, truthfully, I'm not sure that's what I really wanted at the time. I thought we wouldn't be together until we were 80, and both our spouses had died, and we'd regret never having children. The chance is here. Do I stay with the man who loves me, or do I go back to the one I love? HELP!!

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—????

Dear ??,

There are a few glitches with the situation as you describe it. "The one you love" does not seem to have asked you to get back together. Old Reliable, the boring one with faults, sounds disinclined to pop the question, let alone make a baby. Regarding the first love, the one you're sure is looking for you, he probably knows where to find you ... having done so once before, resulting in the five-year affair you mention. Just as an aside, someone who can describe the outfit you were wearing when first you met does not necessarily denote undying devotion, but rather a keen memory for clothes. Prudie implores you not to get carried away with the romantic notions you seem to be dragging around.

—Prudie, solidly

Dear Prudence,

I am a 15-, nearly 16-year-old girl who just plain doesn't know how to function with her parents. I'm not one of those silly teen girls who, when with her parents, sees someone she knows, flips out, and acts like she doesn't know who raised her. The thing is, I don't like sharing my social life with my parents—any aspect of it. I feel quite uncomfortable when even an attempt is made. I don't like them to see me when I'm ecstatic and never let them see me when I'm sad or depressed. And I especially don't like them to see the way I act around my friends. Could this be from a childhood of never sharing feelings with each other? My two siblings and I never really talked to our parents about issues we had. And my parents believe that they shouldn't share certain things with us (i.e., money, death, past troubles). Is ignorance really bliss? Is there anything I can do about the communication problem?

—Lost Teen Girl

Dear Lost,

What an interesting set of questions, but Prudie has a question of her own. Are you living in the garage, dear? How is a teenage girl able to keep her parents from seeing any emotion, whether it be happiness or sadness … and why would she want to? Moreover, why the iron curtain about your friends? It sounds as though you are wishing for more and better communication, yet you're staying behind an emotional wall. In retaliation, perhaps? If you or your sibs never felt able to talk to your folks but would like to change that, it's certainly worth a try. For all you know, they, too, might be wishing that the lines of communication were better. Make the first move—or in your case, call a truce. It won't be easy, but tell them your own version of, "I wish we could improve things in the communication department." As for ignorance being bliss, sometimes it is, and sometimes it's just ignorance. Parents often do not divulge financial particulars, by the way, but it's unclear from your letter what the meaning of "death and past troubles" refers to. These subjects, however, would certainly be fair game for discussion with your folks should you be able to establish improved interaction. Good luck.

—Prudie, talkatively