Q. Videotaping Childbirth: I am due to give birth to my first child in six weeks. My husband is already an excellent parent to his child from a previous marriage. He told me that he wanted to hire a videographer to take a video of our baby's birth. I am a private person, and I can't imagine anything worse than a stranger putting a camera in between my legs. My husband said if I feel embarrassed he could take the video. He says that childbirth is a beautiful thing and he wants a record of it. While I agree it's a special event I don't want to have a video record of such an intimate situation. Who should win this argument?
A: I wonder about these birth videos. I hope the people who took them don't haul them out every birthday and make the poor kid annually relive the journey down the chute. It's one thing to have a video camera of the cleaned up bundle of joy being placed in his or her mother's arms, but it is your choice whether to have the camera aimed up your private parts. Since every moment of our lives is now recorded, I'm increasingly of the school of thought that it's better to just experience most things and use the recording equipment sparingly. There shouldn't be an argument once you say you don't want paparazzi between your legs.
Q. Re: Stripper Daughter: LW1's predicament sounds like it could be extortion, depending on the state. She should remind her parents' "friend" what he's doing is illegal and if he doesn't leave her alone, she's going to the cops. In addition to banishment from the club and/or a "conference" with the bouncers, Mutually Assured Destruction should be enough to rein him in.
A: Good point. She should tell this dirty old man the cops will be alerted to his demands if he ever bothers her again.
Q. Ex-Teacher Engaged To Baby Sister: Imagine my surprise when my little sister's fiance turned out to be a man who taught us both high school math. He's 23 years older than she is, and he only recently obtained a divorce from his ex-wife. My husband and I correctly ascertained that my ex-teacher and my little sister were dating prior to his divorce. I try not to be a stick in the mud, but I'm having trouble adjusting to my soon-to-be-brother-in-law. He still treats me like a student, not like an equal, and a perhaps petty part of me wonders exactly when he began seeing my little sister. How can I work to accept this? He does seem to make my little sister happy.
A: I hope your future brother-in-law is not asking you to solve quadratic equations or saying, "If you got on a bus in Boston going 67 miles an hour and your friend got on a bus ..." He's divorced, they're engaged, and your sister is happy. So be happy for them. My guess is that in the long run your sister is going to need your support because unless he leaves the profession there may be other lovely young things who catch his eye.
Q. Gay Parents: My son is in second grade and a classmate of his has "two daddies." My son wants to go over to his friend's house to play, but we are nervous about this. I know my opinion is probably unpopular, but it is still my opinion: I do not know if this is a good environment for my son at his age. We do not talk about topics like homosexuality in our home. We do not want to field questions yet about these kinds of topics; we want him to be able to just be a kid instead of dealing with complex sexual issues. His friend plays at our house and he is a very nice boy, but eventually his "daddies" will want to know if my son can go to their house. How do we tactfully tell this couple that we would prefer if their son plays at our house? My sister thinks that I will just have to "get over it" and send my son over there. But isn't it my right to monitor environments and control influences for my children? I fear that children in modern society are exposed to far too much far too soon—what happened to letting kids just be kids?
A: So you think this little boy's home should be shunned in the name of letting kids be kids. You don't have to do a lot of explaining to second-graders. When my daughter was even younger than that we had a gay couple and a lesbian couple in our neighborhood who each had kids. We casually explained to my daughter—after she asked, which wasn't immediately—that usually kids have a mommy and daddy but sometimes kids have two mommies or two daddies. It was no big deal to her. I assume treating everyone with respect is a value you want to inculcate in your son. Letting him play at his friend's house will be a good way to put that in action.
Q. Grandchild's Baby Name: My son and daughter-in-law are expecting a girl in the next 10 weeks. They announced their baby name, and I find it rather distasteful. My daughter-in-law has been an avid Gone With the Wind fan and is using Scarlet as the middle name. The first name is a traditional girls’ name. I told my son, privately, that I think it is wrong to use a name like Scarlet as a middle name because her character in the book was not something a little girl should know about or aspire to be. My son told me that a middle name is hardly even used, usually just an initial is fine, and their daughter will be known by her traditional first name. Should I talk to my daughter-in-law about this?
A: Maybe you can hand your daughter-in-law a copy of The Scarlet Letter when she goes into labor. Apparently you also think Scarlett Johansson should hide her head in shame because of her "distasteful" name. Grandma, if you want to have a decent relationship with your daughter-in-law and your grandchild you will zip your trap and never, ever say anything except that this beautiful new baby has a lovely name that suits her.
Q. Guilt: Many years ago my daughter had a best friend, Maria, and the two girls were practically joined at the hip. One afternoon I found an envelope containing nearly $1,000 missing, and I had very good reasons to believe Maria took it. When I quietly confronted her, she became hysterical and said things that made no sense and contradicted each other. That evening I received an angry call from her mother who called me nasty names for accusing her daughter of being a thief, and I called her nasty names for raising one. Needless to say, the girls stopped being friends. My daughter also felt betrayed that her best friend would steal from her mom. Recently I discovered the envelope with cash stuck between the pages of an old book. I have no idea how it got there, but it's clear that Maria couldn't have been the person responsible. It has been almost 8 years since the incident, but I feel a tremendous amount of guilt. Should I contact Maria and offer her and her mother an apology? Or is the apology way overdue now?
A: Apologize to your daughter, Maria, and her mother. The people falsely accused in this awful incident should know the truth. It will be painful and embarrassing for you to do this, but even if Maria and her mother react badly, ultimately you should be proud of yourself for bearing up and doing the right thing. This is a good cautionary tale for people ready to accuse others of household theft.
Q. Boudoir Photos: I recently took some boudoir photos (classy but also sexy) of myself for my fiance as part of his groom’s gift. I went to a reputable photographer. I wanted to enjoy this part of my live when I have a great body so some day I can look back and remember what my mid-‘20s were like. We will have plenty of stuffy photos from our traditional ceremony. Yesterday my fiance started talking about how much he hates boudoir photos because a friend of his just got some as a groom’s gift. Mine are already done! Should I hang onto them myself and keep them or toss them out? Or still give them to him? I thought this would be a great gift, but apparently I was wrong.
A: This is something that two people should be able to laugh about for many years to come. Instead of giving them as a groom's gift, I think you should make the big reveal now and say something like, "I agree that Lacey's boudoir photos are probably junk. But if you wanted to see some that are both erotic and tasteful, take a look at these."
Q. Slow and Steady: I live with stage IV cancer and have done so for almost five years, knock on wood. Friends and colleagues know of my situation and they can see I live a great life—full-time job, great friends, great dog, etc. No one asks if I’ve "beaten it" because I've educated them that some metastatic cancers can be managed as a chronic, rather than terminal illness. And they're thrilled for me. I'm heavily monitored and do a monthly treatment. At my last treatment, my oncologist told me that my cancer may be slowly gaining strength again and I will have to go on a more rigorous cycle of treatment. In addition to being fearful, I am anxious for anyone to know about this, other than my sister and a close friend. What do I say to my friends who ask me how things are going? I may be more fatigued and not as cheery as I normally am. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
A: I hope your new treatment is effective and quick. You can tell people the truth, "I'm hanging in, but my doctors have me on a new drug that unfortunately is rather fatiguing." You mention your great friends, so please know that if you need rides, food delivered, your dog walked, they want to help. You don't have to go into detail about your cancer, but you can let them know that the new drugs are knocking you out and that their assistance is appreciated. Your sister could set up a website (Lotsa Helping Hands is one) for people to sign up to do tasks for you and she can mention on it that since you need to preserve your energy, now is not a good time for socializing.
Q. Losing My Self Respect: I got married and moved to the USA. I love my husband. I used to be independent, and used to always believe in equality. I believed that husbands and wives have equal rights. But my husband becomes abusive occasionally. I told his family and my family about it, and they keep telling me that I should find ways to avoid situations which cause him to get that way. The problem is I have to be careful giving my opinion now, because anything could lead to an argument and then could get physical. I don’t want to leave him, because most of the time he is a good person. But I'm torn between my principles, self-respect and dignity, and letting myself down to avoid him getting mad at me. What is the right way to tackle this?