Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat with readers. An edited transcript of this week's chat is below. (Get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week; click here to sign up. Read Prudie's Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Emily Yoffe:Good afternoon, let's get to your questions.
Q. Old Nudie Pics: I married my ex-husband when I was 21. Early on, we took Playboy-style pictures and saved them as slides. We divorced years ago and he kept the slides. I recently asked for our joint slides to digitize the pictures of our foreign travels. I found the old nudie pics in the slide boxes he happily sent me. I do not feel comfortable with sending these slides back to him. I want to burn them. Do I need to warn him before I destroy these slides? I have no reason to believe he would share them after all this time, but with the ease with which pictures travel the Internet, I do not want them going public. Your opinion, please.
A: It sounds as if you are on good terms with your ex, so I think you should be honest and say while you were looking at your old photos of your trips to the Tetica de Bacares mountains in Spain and the Grand Tetons out West, you came upon some photos reminiscent of those sites you'd both forgotten about. Tell him now that you've stumbled upon your old photo shoot, you want to hang onto this evidence of a fitter time. You have a strong case since you're now actually in possession of the photos and they're images of you. He'd be hard-pressed to make the case that he owns them; surely he's not going to try to re-open your divorce settlement over this.
But don't burn them! If you looked good enough to be an amateur Playmate, why destroy the evidence? Everyone is entitled to an envelope of sexy pictures stuck in the sock drawer. When someday you're clearing everything out for the move to the retirement community, how nice it will be to find these again and think, "Irrefutable evidence that I was hot!"
Q. Company Health Insurance: I'm a recent college grad in my first job, and I plan on staying on my parents' health insurance; it costs me $300-$400 per year to be with them, and my employer's plan is $300-$400 per month. I'm saving the company quite a bit of money but they're only reimbursing me the amount I pay, not the amount they would spend to cover me. Is this an appropriate thing to bring up to my HR person, confidante at work, boss?
A: If I understand correctly your employer is reimbursing you for the small amount of money you're paying to get health coverage elsewhere. But you would like them to write you a big, fat check for the money they would be out, but actually aren't, if you decided to join their program. Maybe when you have this conversation you could also say that by not having children yet, you are not taking family leave to care for them, so they should give you extra vacation time to make up for this. Alternately, you could conclude that given the number of people with no jobs and no health care coverage, you are in a sweet situation, your employer is in no way exploiting you, and that this is the definition of a non-problem.
Q. Children and Internet Usage: The father of my son was convicted of various violent offenses and is now in prison. He has never made contact with us and I do not plan on contacting him. My son is now 4 and I've explained to him in simple terms that his daddy is alive but far away and can't see us. I plan on telling him about his father gradually and age-appropriately until he is old enough to understand the full story. But with the plethora of information available on the Internet I am worried that my son will look up his father's name out of curiosity and come across disturbing articles. I have a 9-year-old nephew who is a whizz on the computer and I have nightmares about the kind of things my son might come across. There is plenty of information about his father, as well as graphic videos, on the World Wide Web. I know it's unrealistic for me to prevent my son from using the computer altogether without my supervision until he turns 18. What, if anything, can I do about this? Thank you.
A: You say you are wisely planning to add to the information your son has about his father over time and in an age-appropriate way. That means you cannot keep from him until he is 18 that his father is a violent offender. This is a very painful piece of news, and you're right not to want to dump it on him too young, but long before your son turns 18, you'll have to explain that his father is a troubled man and that sadly he is in jail for bad things he did. Many parents who have difficult news to convey worry that they will be forced to tell their children everything in one sitting. But if you son feels the subject of his father is not taboo, you will be better able to say, "If you want to talk now about why your dad is in jail, I will. But if it's OK with you, I think it would be better to talk more about this when you're a little older."
Do keep in mind during these discussions to also express to your son that no one is all bad or all good, and there were some good qualities in this man that made you choose him. It might also be helpful for you, and your son, to find a support group for people dealing with children and incarcerated parents.
Q. Health Care: I stopped using my nonprofit's health care plan, and they reimburse me the cost that they would be paying for me were I still using it. So—I don't think the poster's question is that far-fetched. Health care is a benefit that should still be extended to people not choosing to use it. Thanks.