Dear Prudence: My son’s classmate has cerebral palsy. I have no idea how to talk to her mom.

Help! How Do I Ask After a Kid With Cerebral Palsy Without Being Weird About It?

Help! How Do I Ask After a Kid With Cerebral Palsy Without Being Weird About It?

Advice on manners and morals.
May 6 2013 2:48 PM

Awkward Question

In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman who doesn’t know how to talk to the mom of a kid with cerebral palsy.

(Continued from Page 1)

Q. Re: High School Graduation LW: I grew up with a girl who had severe cerebral palsy. While her motor functions and speech were greatly affected, her cognitive abilities were not. She went to college after high school, got her degree, and now writes a monthly article for the local newspaper. She was extremely intelligent and has proven to do so much with her life. Please advise the LW to learn a little bit more about this condition if she would like to have a comfortable discussion with the parents about the girl's plans.

A: Exactly. The letter writer apparently has no idea about the cognitive abilities of this girl. Other people are defending the use of quotations around the word graduation in referring to that sixth grade event as meaning it wasn't really a graduation since it was from elementary school. OK, but the mother's point pointedly was that this child hasn't really been a functioning member of the class. That seems ignorant and even rather ugly.

Q. Friendship: I have been friends with a girl for years. We grew up together and have known each other since we were kids. She moved away a few years ago and although I've tried to get in contact with her, she is dismissive and never follows up. I noticed a few months ago that she took me off of her Facebook friends list. I saw her at an Easter party and she didn't even look at me. I have no idea why she is acting like this. I feel very hurt and confused as to why she doesn't want to be friends anymore. I want to ask her for an explanation of what happened to our relationship. Should I ask her or just move on?


A: If you have no idea, absolutely no idea what could be going on, then accept that she's physically and emotionally out of your life. Removing you from her friends list and snubbing you at a party are pretty harsh and direct messages that she wants nothing to do with you. Accept that friendships sometimes end, sometimes abruptly.

Q. Re: Here's some helpful advice for “inked”: Prudie, you raise fair points about tattoos (and I say that as someone who has a tattoo that I don't regret but don't love, either), but you didn't actually give her the advice she was looking for. You're in your late 20s. If you're old enough to live on your own and fend for yourself, I see no reason to tell them if you decide to get the tattoo. If they find out, don't act like you were hiding anything—you're an adult. Just say something like, “Oh yes, I did get a tattoo." And move on. If they're going to throw a fit or something, just ignore it. You're an adult—if you think you're ready for a tattoo, you're ready to act independently of your parents.

A: Of course once you're an adult you don't need your parents' approval to get tattoos. Thanks for making that point. And also thank you for conveying that one's enthusiasm for a tattoo may wane, but the tattoo doesn't.

Dear Prudence: Return of the Deadbeat Dad

Q. Re: High School Graduation: I have a son with cognitive disabilities who is mainstreamed. I think we should give the LW (who wrote "graduation") a break. She is asking advice about how to handle the situation. She's doing the best she can. Maybe she doesn't understand this disability, but she is obviously trying. I'm just tired of people getting up in arms when others are trying to do the right thing, and they kind of do it in an awkward way.

A: Thank you for this. I agree that people can be awkward around this issue and that not getting offended at every stumble is the way to go. But the letter writer has known this girl and her mother for years so by now she should have developed a much more natural, relaxed way of talking to the other mother about her child.

Q. Attending Wedding With Someone I Fired: I'm attending a wedding next weekend where one of the other guests is a gentleman that I fired a few years ago. He was let go for not showing up for work, refusing to follow explicit directions, etc. He was given multiple written warnings in advance. However, he kept making bad choices. He and his wife (I attended their wedding prior to the firing) tend to drink a lot and get rather boisterous when they drink. Considering the open bar and the feelings of the bride and groom would want a happy event to remember, I will do my very best to avoid them. However, it is a small wedding and there won't be lots of places to hide. Any suggestions on how to keep things under control if either of the offended parties decide (after downing a few) that the reception is the correct place to air grievances?

A: If this guy gets drunk and starts publicly berating you for firing him, then he will be making an excellent case for your decision. Do not fret about this and let it ruin the wedding. Be cordial to this guy when you see him, engage in a few moments of small talk, then move on. If he makes a scene just say this is not the place to discuss his grievances and walk away.

Q. Is This reasonable?: I work at a small office and like many office workers, sometimes eat at my desk. I snack on nuts on a daily basis and find myself lethargic if I don't. A co-worker—I'll call her Rita—asked me not to eat nuts at work anymore. She explained her daughter is anaphylactic to all nuts and she is worried about cross contamination. I told her I would be careful about cleaning up and made a point of wiping my desk down regularly and ensuring I don't leave a mess. Apparently Rita is unhappy about this and glares at me as if internally raging whenever I have nuts now. Am I being inconsiderate or is she unreasonable to expect me to stop eating nuts?

A: I don't know the medical answer to whether your nut habit could actually result in nut debris clinging to Rita so that she comes home and her kid ends up in the emergency room. But you need to sit down with Rita and talk about what she perceives as the dangers and how you can mitigate them. Be sympathetic, not defensive. Having a child with a life-threatening condition is a weight to carry. After you hear her out, see if she finds it reasonable for you to offer to eat your nuts away from your desk. I understand that may sound annoying to you, but think of it like getting up, stretching your legs, and getting coffee. Sure, she can't stop you from eating nuts. But instead of thinking, "Nuts to you!" both of you will have a more pleasant work day if you feel you've accommodated each other.

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Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.