A: Of course you know that giving away your baby stuff is a better form of fertility treatment than IVF. You won't need this stuff back for several months, so if it's being used just tell your friends you'd like to turn your gift into a loan because, surprise!, you're going to be needing that stroller and car seat again eventually. Yes, a gift is a gift, but if there's ever a case where people should be understanding, this is it.
Q. Losing a DIL to Divorce: My son impregnated a woman who is not his wife. He and his wife are now divorcing. I feel incredible grief over losing my daughter-in-law so suddenly. She and I have become wonderful friends during her relationship with my son. Because they have no children, and my son wants her out of his life, I will likely never be close with my current DIL again. I resent my son and his pregnant girlfriend for this loss, and I do not know if I will ever be able to accept this new woman. I could use some advice about how to cope with this sadness and anger, especially since there will soon be a blameless child.
A: Painful as this is, how your son conducts his private life is in a profound way not your business. You are about to become a grandmother and although you object to the way this is coming about, it's very important that you do not want to damage your relationship with your grandchild in order to teach your son and his girlfriend a lesson.
But just because your son wants his wife out of his life doesn't mean you can't have some sort of relationship with her. Maybe you two can have an occasional lunch—although be aware that may just be too painful for both of you. But you certainly are entitled to write her a letter expressing your abiding affection for her. Keep in mind that as angry as you are at your son and his girlfriend, you will soon be overwhelmed with love for their child.
Q. Help!: Two months ago I hired my best friend's daughter to work in my retail business part-time. I've known this girl for many years to be a mature, responsible and considerate young woman so had no hesitation hiring her. As my employee, however, she has been a disappointment. When she's actually here she's hard working and efficient. But she often calls right before her shift to say she can't make it for various reasons. Being a small business it's difficult to deal with last minute staff absence. I've asked her dozens of times to let us know well in advance if she can't make it for a legitimate reason, to no avail. It has sadly come to a situation where I need to let her go. But how do I go about firing my best friend's daughter without affecting my relationship with both mother and daughter?
A: You tell both Mom and daughter what you've told me: When she's there she's great, but she's often not there and that has left you in the lurch dozens of times. So sadly, this job just hasn't worked out. Sure, it will sting your friend, but she should take this opportunity to tell her daughter that this is what happens when you blow an opportunity. If instead it tanks your friendship, then you've learned something unfortunate about two generations of these women.
Q. Revised Story Re: One-Night Stand:
Emily, I just want to offer my support for the points you made about the "victim" of this so-called rape. I know you'll get bombarded with a lot of offended armchair (and maybe even actual) advocates for rape victims, but women, taking ownership of our bodies means owning up to the responsibility of when we screw up. Two people having sex when both of their inhibitions are lowered by alcohol is NOT rape. It does tremendous harm to enforcement of rape laws when women try to escape the consequences of their actions in this way.
A: Thanks. I know this is a controversial stand, but I agree that turning a regretted one-night stand into a rape only ends up hurting women who actually are raped.
Q. Homeless Harassing Inspired My Inaction: Last Thursday I drove past a twenty-something man tossing the unattended belongings of a homeless person about while his friends laughed. I regret not stopping to tell them to knock it off, although my boyfriend says that because I'm short and tiny, that might not have been a great idea. I'm very bothered by my inaction and by their gross behavior. What should I have done? Is there anything I can do now? I plan to volunteer at a soup kitchen, but my boyfriend says I'm being too hard on myself and reacting out of guilt.
A: You should have called the police, but do not beat yourself up that you were so stunned you didn't know what to do. And I agree with your boyfriend that you could have been putting yourself at physical risk by trying to intervene with a group of sick young men. Volunteer at a soup kitchen because you want to help, not because you are doing penance for doing something wrong.
Q. A Co-Worker, a Wedding, a Lie: While I was planning my wedding (which took place two weeks ago), I was peppered with questions about the planning by several of my co-workers, which I generally enjoyed sharing. One day, in front of three other people, I was asked if my father was looking forward to walking me down the aisle. I haven't seen or communicated with my abusive alcoholic father since I was 11 (I'm 27), and I really, really don't want to share any of this with the people I work with. I was caught off-guard by this question, so I panicked, lied, and said my dad died when I was little. One of the women present during this exchange was invited to our wedding along with four other co-workers; we share a cubicle, and she's in her early 60s. At some point, she struck up a conversation with my mother and mentioned something about how she was sure my father wished he could be here to see this day. My mother is quick to temper with any mention of my father, and with a few drinks in her she reacted pretty harshly to this well-intentioned (though unnecessary) comment. When I returned to work last week, this woman pulled me aside, told me that lying about the death of a parent was disgusting and that I never should have put her in the kind of situation where she was publicly berated over misinformation. I apologized profusely for my mother's behavior, but I'm not sure how to handle the lie about my father. This woman and I share a cubicle, and I can't stand the thought of suffering through another uncomfortable week, but I still don't want to tell her about my sensitive past.
A: Of course your co-worker felt embarrassed, but she should have come to you like an adult and explained she found herself in an awkward situation. You have apologized for misleading her, so she should let it go. You don't owe people the story of your childhood, but it is necessary for someone in your situation to have a canned phrase ready. You can say something like, "My father and I haven't been in contact for many years, and unfortunately, it's better for all of us that way." Tell this to your co-worker, then practice saying, if a follow-up comes, "This is a painful subject, and I appreciate your understanding I don't want to go into it."
Q. RE: Response to Date Rape: As a young woman who has drunk to the point of excess and hooked up with boys I maybe shouldn't have: I think calling this rape is totally unfair. I know that on occasions I have “blacked out,” some of my closest friends will be shocked the next day that I don’t remember much of the previous night (as I was acting relatively more sober than I was clearly feeling). Am I proud of these moments? Not at all. But do I blame the boys, also likely intoxicated? Well, then I'm as guilty as they are.
A: This letter writer makes the great point that while she was too drunk to remember what she was doing, she likely was acting a lot more sober than she was, thus giving the impression of consent.
Q. False Accusations: I have a real issue with the "I was so drunk I can't consent" argument, as a guy. My issue is this: A rape accusation, whether real or not, can ruin a man's life—it can ruin his professional and personal relationships among other things. Furthermore, the court of public opinion is far too quick to convict men (think Duke lacrosse team) without proof. The woman should ask herself if she really was raped or she really just drank too much, and unless she's 100% sure that she was raped, she should learn a lesson from this, not make her fellow one-night-stander into a victim.
A: Another great point. No one should have to defend himself against a false accusation like this. You are right that the consequences can be disastrous.
Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. Have a great week.