Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of this week's chat is below. (Sign up here to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie's Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Emily Yoffe: Good afternoon. I fervently hope that by the end of the night there will not be any bags of caramels left at our house I'll then be forced to eat.
Q. Trick-or-Drunks: The dads I take my kids trick-or-treating with—all neighbors and family friends—bring thermoses full of strong cocktails when we head out. We walk around our neighborhood for maybe two hours, so by the end of the night, some of them are drunk and rowdy. As the only one not to bring a cocktail thermos, I feel embarrassed for the men, because they are not smooth drunks and their kids notice their inebriation, and I get stressed out, because I feel responsible for making sure none of the kids falls behind. Last year when I mentioned that it might not be a great idea to drink during an event primarily centered around our children, they blew me off. I am not looking forward to Halloween this year and am considering taking my kids to my in-laws’ neighborhood for the night. Should I broach this subject again with them or back off?
A: It will be a memorable Halloween if Dad barfs in the candy bag—at least that will solve the dilemma about what to do with all that junk. The hours are ticking down until the drunken crawl around the neighborhood, but I think you should put on your Carrie Nation costume and send a group email, or call the other fathers, and say after you take your kids out you'd like to invite all the dads back to your house for a well-deserved cocktail. But tell them you're uncomfortable going around with drinks while supervising the kids. If they blow you off as a milquetoast, gather your kids in the car and tell them the treats are even better in their grandparents' neighborhood.
Dear Prudence: Artistic Abominations
Q. Texting: My wife used to yawn during sex, now she's texting. Should I say something to her?
A: Take a look at her messages. Perhaps she's writing, "My husband is making love to me, it won't take a minute." Then you could get your phone and text her about your desire to meet at the office of your divorce lawyer.
Q. Broke Brother: My brother is reckless and irresponsible. He has wasted his money on parties, wine, unnecessary travels, women, and unwise investments. Over the years we had many arguments over this issue and I made it clear that when (not if) he became broke, I would not be there to bail him out. As predicted he has now lost most of his money. He's also recently found out he has lung problems (although not life threatening) and needs ongoing care. Being broke, he can't afford to get the best treatment or the most experienced physician available. It upsets me to see my brother in such poor shape, but I am hesitant to help out. There's a part of me that thinks he should reap what he sows. Am I heartless to think this?
A: It's unfortunate that in this country being reckless can also mean you are ruined if you get sick. There are two issues here. One is his profligacy and the personal responsibility for his poor decisions. The other is that he needs medical care. If he's truly without resources, perhaps you can help him navigate the Medicaid system. Your personally paying for the best physicians would surely be ruinous for you. But perhaps there is something you can help him with that would ease his medical condition. That means you don't write him a check, but maybe—if you want to—you help underwrite a respiratory therapist for a while. You are not obligated to do any of this, but imagine him gone, and consider if you will feel regretful you didn't try to help.
Q. Trick-or-Drunks: I have a feeling this poster is being a tad bit overreactive. While I haven't done it, I don't think I've seen a single year's Halloween without SOME group coming to the door with a drink in hand. It's pretty common. I'd like to know what counts as "drunk and rowdy" to this person.
A: I'll take the poster at his word that this is not the dads all having a beer as they walk around with their little goblins, but people who empty big thermoses and really end up scaring the kids. There's no reason to participate in this if there's a better alternative.
Q. Sister Looking for Adopted Sister's Roots: My sister is adopted. All my life I've been curious about her birth parents. As a child I used to fantasize about her mom coming to baby-sit, or I drew pictures of what I thought they'd look like. I have been thinking about looking for her birth parents—not to meet them or anything, but to simply find out who they are and the circumstances of the adoption. I thought of doing this without telling my sister because she doesn't really want to know. My question is, is this wrong?
A: Here's some news: Her mom is your mom, so you don't have to look for her mom. Your sister is not interested in finding her biological parents, so drop your fantasy that Bill and Melinda Gates are going to show up and claim her. Stop harping on the distinction between you—she is your sister. And the answer to whether it would be wrong for you to start a search on your own is: Yes it would be.