A: "Ah, honey, you know the conversation we had about how funny it would be to have a child 'out there'? I should have told you long ago I might have a child out there and apologize for not telling you sooner." Explain that when you were young you made some money by donating sperm—you can use the Mark Ruffalo line from The Kids Are All Right: Donating sperm seemed like more fun than donating blood. Tell her you don't know if any children resulted, and it's unlikely you'll ever know. But given how laws in this area are changing, it's a possibility that some day someone “out there” will end up on your doorstep.
Q. Sending Photo to Molester Grandpa?: My husband has no contact with his paternal grandfather, due to extensive sexual abuse allegations by his father's six siblings. His father, however, claims to be the only child out of seven that wasn't sexually abused, and maintains a somewhat close relationship with the man. Recently, we had professional portraits done of our young daughter and sent copies of the photos to all our family. My mother-in-law contacted me and asked if dear old grandpa could be added to the photo mailing list. While no request has been made for in-person contact with the man, I am deeply disturbed by the thought of him having a photo of our daughter. I don't want to offend my in-laws. Should I just mail him a small photo in order to keep the peace, or am I right for being skeeved out by just the thought of it?
A: I wonder what your in-laws don't get about a man who molested six of his seven children. Tell your mother-in-law you plan to honor your husband's decision to have no contact with a sexual predator.
Q. Daughter's Friend's Crazy Mom: My daughter is very good friends with two girls, Cammie and Bianca. They are all 11. Cammie's mom offered to take the girls on a four-day trip to a fun nearby city. She said that she would pay for all of the meals; my daughter and Bianca only needed to bring a few dollars for souvenirs. My husband and I gave our daughter $10 and sent her off. When she came home last night she was starving and distraught. As soon as they were on the road Cammie's mom told them they needed to pay for their own meals. She wouldn't take my daughter or Bianca to places where they could afford to eat, so the girls quickly ran out of money. I am livid at this crazy woman's behavior. What's the correct response?
A: You need to call Cammie's mother and say just what you said here: that your daughter came home hungry and distraught. Say you're sorry if there was some misunderstanding over financing this trip, but you wish she had called you when it turned out your daughter and Bianca didn't have enough money for meals. It's hard to imagine she has a coherent response, but you at least need to have addressed directly what happened. Then tell your daughter you're sorry she had such a terrible time, that there's no explanation for how Cammie's mother behaved, and you will make sure your daughter never goes on a road trip with her again.
Q. Affair Drama and My Daughter: My husband had an affair with our daughter's best friend's mom. To save our marriage we are cutting all ties with the other family, but the other parents keep contacting us to make plans with our daughter. Am I being unfair to my child, who now can't spend time with her best friend outside of school and extracurricular activities?
A: I'm assuming you're saying the cheating wife and the cuckolded husband are contacting you in order to get your children together. Does this mean the other husband doesn't know? It would be sad and inexplicable for you to say to your daughter she's not allowed to see her best friend anymore—surely she's already picked up that mommy and daddy are very unhappy. But I can understand you don't want contact with the other wife. However, at the least your children are classmates and are involved in the same extracurriculars, so you are going to have to learn to hold your head high and act civil at back-to-school night, etc. I think it's possible for you to let the girls get together while limiting your contact with the other woman. Divorced couples do hand-offs of the kids all the time without actually having to see each other. I understand your cutting social ties with the other couple, but surely the cost of saving your marriage does not mean your daughter loses her best friend.
Q. She Flashed My Boyfriend: This weekend my 24-year-old boyfriend, John, went to an out-of-state soccer tournament with his recreational team that I did not attend. The captain jokingly said that if they won, his girlfriend Christy, the team medic, would flash her breasts at them. They did not win. However, after every tournament they sit in a circle and take turns giving shout-outs praising another person on the team. My boyfriend gave a shout out to her. In thanks, she walked right up to him and showed him her goods. Just him. Her guy seemed to be OK with it, but I am not! John says it is not a big deal, and it is not like she is making a habit of flashing people. (It was a one-time deal.) I can't say I am happy about it, but I am resigned to let it go. However, there is no doubt that someone on the team is going to bring it up. What do I say to the annoying remarks like, "Hey, did you know Christy flashed John?" Should I talk to Christy calmly and mention that I know it was done in fun, but I would appreciate if she did not do that again?
A: If someone mentions that Christy flashed John, just smile and say, "Medics gone wild!" Having a sense of humor about this will do more for your relationship than trying to put the team on breast probation.
Q. Ten Dollars for Four Days?!: Yes, Cammie's mother sounds disturbed to not feed hungry girls. But what kind of mother sends her daughter away for FOUR DAYS to a city with 10 bucks in her pocket? Why didn't you call out the mother asking the question on that?
A: Good point. A road trip with three girls is an expensive proposition and all this should have been worked out among the adults beforehand. However, if Cammie's mother said she'd take care of the meals and found out she couldn't, she either needed to end the trip, or call the other parents and say she was going to need reimbursement when they returned. Starving the children is not an option.
Q. Re: Red-Flagging Newspaper: Personally I think it is disgusting to take the office copy of the paper into the restroom with you and then put it back out on the table. Would you really want to pick up this paper after it's made a few trips to the toilet?
A: My copy of today's paper is in the bathroom, so my answer is that it doesn't bother me.
Q. Evil Stepmommy!: I was very sick a few days ago. Something flulike. I sent my husband off to work his third-shift job, put my two stepdaughters (8 and 10) to bed early, and crashed out myself around 10 p.m. Well, my stepdaughters woke up the next morning, sneaked into my room and turned off the alarm. They spent the morning cleaning the house and then were making me breakfast when my husband came home for the day. He immediately woke me up and had words with me, saying how irresponsible I was. How I'd scarred the girls for life by making them take on "adult roles" and made me sit them down and apologize for my "neglect." He was so infuriated I couldn't even appreciate the incredibly kind gesture from my stepdaughters. I understand that he feels like it's my job to care for them, and not theirs to care for me ... but I was terribly sick, and they were just being kind. I want to tell him off, but as they're my stepchildren I've always had to obey his wishes when it came to them. The sad part is, my eldest was so upset that I couldn't enjoy all the work she'd done for me. I want to make it clear to my husband that I think HE was the one out of line, but how without overstepping MY bounds?
A: I'm hoping that your husband is so exhausted from working three jobs he's delirious with exhaustion. He has turned a lovely tribute into something ugly. Also disturbing is your mention that you must "obey" his wishes about your children. It sounds as if you are a caring stepmother and your stepdaughters were thrilled to be able to help you. If you are unable to express to this your husband, you immediately need a neutral party to help you two work on your communication so you don't become a former stepmother.
Q. Update: My sister was the one-time slapped wife: My sister wrote in to you several months ago about how her stressed-out husband had slapped her after she said something nasty to her. She wanted to stay with him, and you agreed that given the one time nature of the slap that seemed like the best idea. My sister confided in me and seemed to imply that her comment was what made him snap, so she somehow contributed to the slap. But all she said to him was that he was a crappy son because he forgot to call his mom on mother's day. I don't believe any nasty comment by someone warrants a slap, but this seems like an especially tame comment to me. I think my sister should at least have taken a break from her marriage to give them some space to cool off. Her husband really wants to have another kid, and so does she, but she doesn't think this is the right time. I also don't feel comfortable with my kids around him anymore. What do I need to do to support my sister? Does this new info change your original assessment? He has been a model husband since the slap.