A: I will never understand how divorced parents choose new partners who behave appallingly to their kids. There's nothing that should kill love, or even lust, faster than seeing your children being mistreated. Unfortunately, this is a choice your father has made. You must tell your mother what's going on. Show her the girlfriend's FB page, explain that the girlfriend won't come out of her room while you are there and the atmosphere is poisonous. Yes, this will create turmoil, unfortunately, but if your father can't step up and create a welcoming home for you two, another adult needs to take action.
Q. Is My Roommate's Flag Racist?: My new roommate comes from Mississippi. The first thing she hung up when she moved into our dorm room was a large Confederate flag. I am not African American but I told her that, given its historical connotations, her flag makes me uncomfortable. She assured me she abhors slavery but that her flag is a symbol of her Southern pride. I want to respect her right to make our room feel like home, but I can't make my peace with the flag. We don't go to school in the South, so many of my friends (of a variety of racial backgrounds) have judged her harshly. I don't want to be associated with the flag. Other than the flag, she's a pretty decent roommate. What should I do, short of going into RA-supervised mediation? Am I being too PC? I just don't get what it symbolizes.
A: There are many ways to feel pride in your home state, but I agree hanging a symbol of the Confederacy in a room you share with someone else is not one of them. Tell your roommate that the flag reflects on both of you and that it's harming your relationships with other people. If she won't take it down, then you should take it up the ladder. You shouldn't have to look at a flag on your own wall that makes you shudder.
Q. Odd Request From Husband: In an effort to spice things up a bit in the bedroom, my husband of 20 years has recently requested that I start wearing diapers around the house. I quickly said NO and left it at that, but he keeps pursuing. I am wavering now, and considering it, but not sure if I'm going crazy. Is this nuts? Is he nuts?
A: Think of what this will do for the sale of Depends if it turns out this is the secret to spicing up a long marriage! Wearing diapers or seeing others wear them is one of the harder-to-comprehend fetishes. Either your husband should have let you in on the fact that this turns him on 20 plus years ago, or he should have never let you in on it. I can't tell if you are actually considering doing it because you want to please him, or because you are feeling pressured, or because it will decrease the need to clean the bathroom. Unless this is something you want to freely and happily try, you need to tell your husband this is not for you. But now that he's let you know that the idea of your losing bladder control gets him so excited he loses bladder control, you have to have a further discussion about how he has, or plans to, explore this facet of his sexuality.
Q. You MUST Find Your Bio Parents: I was adopted by my incredible parents days after my birth. I don't know my birth mother, but if and when the time comes that I want to find her, my parents have told me they will support and help me throughout the process. I recently mentioned to a good friend's mom that I was adopted. She revealed to me (her kids know) that her parents pressured her to "adopt out" her son when she was 17. She asked when I planned to find my birthparents. When I told her I didn't know when or even if I would, she became distressed. She implied that my life will be incomplete, that I will suffer from mental and emotional problems, if I don't find my birth family. Her implications make me angry, because I do not feel incomplete. And my parents are amazing. I'm not sure what to do, though, because I feel for her and her situation.
A: You were right to feel angry. This woman should be old enough not to dump on you her unresolved feelings about placing her child for adoption. Some adoptees want to find their biological parents, some don't. If you're one of the ones who doesn't want to, you should be completely confident about the health and rightness of that choice. If your friend's mother brings this up again, tell her you understand her point of view, but you don't want to discuss it anymore.
Q. Betrayed My Stepmom: Twice in the past year I caught my dad having sex with the same woman while my stepmother was out of town. Both times angered and confused me. My dad begged me not to tell my stepmom. I didn't know what to do. So I kept his secret. When my stepmom discovered the affair two weeks ago, my dad told her everything, including how I caught him twice. My stepmom is furious with him and now also with me. She said I have terrible morals and that she will never trust me again. She refuses to take my phone calls and has asked me to leave her alone. I am so ashamed of myself and my behavior. I love my stepmom, and I betrayed her so badly. I don't think she'll ever love me again. I cry a lot. My dad has been busy cleaning up his affair mess and hasn't had much time to talk with me either. What can I do to make my betrayal up to my stepmom?
A: This has become the "adults who should know better behaving badly" chat. It's a perfectly reasonable choice to decide not to get involved in your parents' sex life. Your father must be pretty brazen if you stumbled twice upon his extracurricular activities. But no matter how close you are with your stepmother, you weren't obligated to let her know. He's obviously such a clumsy cheater that he was going to get caught, eventually, which he did. Your stepmother is hurt and angry and lashing out. If she becomes rational again she will see that knowing about his cheating a few months earlier wouldn't have made any difference. You can send her a note saying how much you love her and what she's meant to you, but that you felt caught in an impossible situation. If she won't come around, then it's truly sad you have to suffer because the adults in your life won't behave like grownups.
Q. Ex-Wife's "Confession": I am getting married to a divorced father next weekend. We live very close to his ex-wife, who remains my fiance's good friend. I really enjoy the mother of my stepchildren, but I'm not sure how to handle a recent "confession" she made to me. My fiance cheated on her, which ultimately led to the disintegration of their marriage. He also watched porn during their marriage and had some serious kinks. She told me all of this because she wanted me to go into our marriage "knowing everything." I was too embarrassed in the moment to tell her that not only did I already know all of that—I supported the latter two habits. I don't know if I should follow up with her or tell my fiance. Help!?!
A: If you like wearing diapers, then you've found the perfect man! Since you and the ex know and enjoy each other, it sounds as if she's not acting out of malice but because she doesn't want to see this new marriage collapse because her ex-husband wasn't honest with you. Fortunately, he was honest with you. Whether to tell your fiance depends on how you read the situation. If he'd laugh it off, fine. If he'd blow up and it would make everything uncomfortable between the three of you, I don't think you're obligated to tell. Since you will be co-parenting children together with the ex, you probably do need to at least acknowledge the conversation. You can say, "About our talk last week. I want to reassure you that nothing you said came as a surprise." Then move on to more appropriate topics like where Freddy Jr. left his math homework.
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