I have a new boyfriend who is generous, fun, kind, gentle, and very loving. We rekindled after several years apart and didn't break up badly the first time. I like him and I could possibly see a life with him. The problem is that he isn't well-endowed; well below average, in fact. I knew this before we rekindled, but thought I could look past it. I'm not a size queen, but I really would like to enjoy a fuller sex life, so to speak. I would never mention this to him, because I would never want to hurt his feelings. I realize this is not the most important part of life, but I really want to have a satisfying sex life along with everything else. Any suggestions on how to get over this issue?
—Coming Up Short
You are kind not to have forwarded your boyfriend any e-mails about enhancing the "garth of his pecnis." But only you can decide how big an issue this is. Clearly in your years apart from him, you haven't found anyone who measures up in the other qualities your boyfriend has in abundance. I understand you wish there were more of him, but you haven't said whether you get pleasure from what there is. If your entire sex life is a bust, then even though you say it's not the most important part of life, it will take on increasing dimension if you feel constantly unsatisfied. But if you enjoy what you have, then those good feelings, and the pleasure you get from him when you're not in bed, should help reduce your longings. Try expanding your sexual repertoire, explore new positions—maybe you will find some that are more fulfilling. And ask yourself if this shortcoming is enough to send you back out to continue your quest for an ideal man.
My wife and I taught at a high school in the Southwest for three years. It has been a year and half since we last worked there and we still occasionally receive e-mails from students. A few days ago, we received one that contained a link to a MySpace-like Web site. One of the pictures on her page showed two other students, one holding what looks like an AK-47 and one pointing a handgun at the camera. The school we taught at had trouble in the past with guns (one student brought a loaded gun to my class and later killed himself) and gangs. My thought was to e-mail the superintendent the link to the Web site. Do I have any legal obligations to report this, and if so, to whom? I would like to know what I need to do legally to stay on the right side of the law.
Forget the legal ruling. You know of teenagers proudly brandishing their deadly weapons who go to a high school with past gun troubles. Ken Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Services, says you have to get on the phone to the police, pronto, and give them the names of the students and a link to the Web site. You should also contact the principal with the information and tell him or her that the police have already been alerted. In the event the kids were displaying a plastic gun and a Super Squirter, they will probably forever put them away in the toy chest. After Columbine, a great effort was made to convince students it wasn't ratting or snitching to let the authorities know if other students were in possession of weapons or threatening violence. Ted Feinberg of the National Association of School Psychologists says that many potential disasters have been averted because kids stepped up and told on other kids. Certainly a former teacher should heed this message.
My 18-month-old daughter has mild cerebral palsy, and while I would change nothing about her, I am loath to make this news public. She does not walk yet, but she is just starting to crawl. We don't want advice or special attention, as this is a big enough hurdle. While we believe in explaining her situation to family, we see no reason to make it a public issue when it truly is so mild and when we have been so blessed just to have her. She is a smart child with a brain issue that causes her to have physical impairment. What she is capable of, no one knows yet—but her neurologist believes she will turn out to just be a "clumsy kid" who has to work a little harder. We attend church and only one or two families are aware of the label of her condition, and I just don't know what to tell the rest. How long can we call our daughter a delayed walker? We appreciate the concern, but we don't want the special prize that goes with the label.
—Label Me With Love.
Your letter says everything you need to say to friends who are concerned about your daughter: She has mild cerebral palsy; you are working with wonderful specialists; the outlook for her is great; and you feel very blessed she is your daughter. It's perfectly understandable that you don't want to send out an announcement about this, nor do you need to get into discussions with strangers about your daughter's physical abilities. But for your daughter's sake, you need to get over your discomfort at the idea that she will be "labeled" as someone with cerebral palsy. She is someone with cerebral palsy, but that is just one small piece of information about your wonderful child. After running a letter similar to yours from the mother of a little girl with a not-yet-fully diagnosed autism disorder, I heard from many parents of autistic children. They all understood the mother's hesitation to label her daughter, but they said it was a big relief for them, and their children, when they were able to stop worrying about labels and be comfortable enough to say, "My child has autism." Think how much better for you, and eventually your daughter, to be able to use the words "cerebral palsy" matter-of-factly, than for people to wonder why she's a "clumsy kid."
I am a 25-year-old woman who's been in a relationship with a man for about six years. He is halfway through graduate school and I have just started law school. I have always provided unconditional support and encouragement in his career choices. I have even sacrificed my own emotional needs at times. Lately there has been a lot of friction when I make decisions based upon my school responsibilities. Now that I am under similar pressures, he is unwilling to recognize the importance of my studies. He is financially supportive, but is still putting his needs and career goals first. How do I make him see that my career is just as important as his? Furthermore, how do I request the same support I have given him over the years?
—I Count Too
I cringe whenever I hear someone says they give, or want, unconditional love and support. I know you're supposed to get it from your dog—but even a dog expects food and walks in return. Why is your relationship so unbalanced? Were you afraid that if you didn't squelch your needs, he would walk away? It sounds as if you have an unrealistic perception of what being supportive means. Maybe you think it requires being a doormat, and you're annoyed because he doesn't understand that now it's your turn to wipe your feet. You don't say how he is he failing to recognize that your work is just as important as his, except to imply that he should put his ambition aside for you. Why? Surely at this intense, career-building point in your lives, you can both accept that there will be many times when you each have to put your work first. Being able to do that isn't emotional abandonment; instead, it can be a form of emotional support.