A: I agree the age-21 announcement is a very bad idea. And thanks for the recommendation of the organization. In order for the children to know in an age-appropriate way about egg donation, both parents have to be onboard, so Mom has some work to do here. I'm interested in the telling about this "often." I understand what you mean about making this fact just a normal part of life and not taboo. But I've also known adoptive parents who seem to harp on the fact that their kids are adopted, mentioning it all the time. Sure, it's a discussion that's not a one-time event, but can parents also err by bringing up biological origins too much?
Q. Re: husband's sperm donation: Prudence, I agree with your advice that the couples should try to repair their relationship, and the other couple should do some introspection about why they want that biological connection, but doesn't it behoove the writer to do the same? It's understandable that she's uncomfortable, but shouldn't she ask why is she uncomfortable? Isn't a truthful and thoughtful answer to that question just as important and potentially healing as the other couple doing the same?
A: This proposition should have been presented in a respectful way to both the brother and his wife. And yes, she should have then said she would think about it, even if inside she was saying, "No, no, no, I hate this idea." Then she and her husband should have explored their differing reactions. However, if a wife is uncomfortable with her husband being the father of her niece and nephew she is entitled to that reaction and the onus is not on her to change her mind. Other people are writing that she is being selfish and making a life-changing decision for this other couple. But having to face infertility does not give you a right to demand a solution from your relatives.
Q. The wedding gift: Asking how one is using a gift is now considered badgering, along with being rude and hostile? I just can't agree. The problem here isn't the gift givers, it's the person who received the gift. She made the choice to lie about what she did with the gift, and now she dug herself a hole that she can't get out of, because she was completely unprepared for there to be any kind of follow-up.
A: I have given many thoughtfully chosen, even handmade gifts to family members. Sometimes I see they use them; sometimes I have to assume the gifts went to Goodwill or the Dumpster. I would never ask Where is that platter I lovingly decorated? You give a gift, you get thanked (hopefully), then you let it go.
Q. Photography: I've taken photography courses and am fairly good with the camera. So when my friends have functions on, I'm happy to be the volunteer photographer for a part of the evening. I enjoy it for the most part, except for one friend making the job something of a nuisance. She is incredibly self-conscious, particularly when it comes to taking photos. She insists on checking every photo with her in it, as soon as I take them. She has repeatedly asked me to delete pictures in which she thinks she doesn't look good. When I try to say "don't worry, you look great" she will plead with me until I relent. I can understand if it's solo pictures of her but sometimes they're a group photo or her and one or two others. I've promised not to post photos of her online without her permission but this is not good enough. I'm tired of spending a bulk of my evening getting approvals from her on my photos. It also annoys me to delete so many after taking careful shots, simply because she doesn't like them. I don't want to be rude to her or ask her to exclude herself from group pictures. What's a polite way to get her to stop bugging me?
A: I read that after a photo session Marilyn Monroe used to look at the contact sheet then draw an X across the negatives that she felt were unflattering. You can understand how an actress known for her sex appeal would feel the need to control her image. For the rest of us it used to be that an unflattering snapshot at worst ended up in a dusty photo album. Now we all have the reassurance that those photos that make us look like bloated frogs will be posted online and become a permanent part of our history. You don't say what you're doing with these photos, but I assume like everyone else these days, you're making sure they're accessible to everyone on Facebook. Sure your self-conscious friend is being a pain, but the right not to have everyone you know see you looking terrible is being eroded. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to record your happy social events. When you want to start snapping, you should just say, "Sandy, I'm going to be taking pictures now. So make sure you're standing behind me."
Q. Girlfriend's string of temporary jobs causing conflict: Prudie, I have a high-paying career at a university. Both my girlfriend and I hold bachelor's degrees. While mine was in computer science, hers was in communications. Since graduating a year ago, she's held a string of temporary but relatively high-paying positions: online writing, temporary work handling a website's advertisers, and now online tutoring. She's great at diversifying and insists she's happy doing what she's doing. I feel it's a little irresponsible that she's no longer looking for a career. Am I wrong?
A: Your girlfriend graduated from college a year ago and has figured out a way to make decent money and you're complaining? She's happy with what she's doing, and she's getting valuable experience in her field doing a variety of tasks in lots of different places. That sounds like great, résumé-enhancing experience. What she may not be so happy about is a snotty boyfriend who's undermining her.