Help! My Childless Friend Is Completely Obsessed With My Baby.

Advice on manners and morals.
July 9 2013 6:15 AM

Attack of the Baby Snatcher

In a live chat, Prudie counsels a woman whose childless friend is obsessed with her infant daughter.

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A: The bully certainly wins if it means your wife can never be at a function hosted by your family and that it's virtually impossible for you and the kids to go, too. All of you showing up is not a signal that all is forgiven. But it's way past time for your family to move to a cold peace with your sister. While your sister physically assaulted your wife, which is inexcusable, the precipitating incident was mutual. It was an ugly scene all around, but one that should be psychologically laid to rest. At this point your wife and sister should be able to be in the same room, exchange polite "hellos," then excuse themselves to freshen their (nonalcoholic) drinks. But who's the bully now when your wife tries to dictate your ability to see your family and forbid her young kids from engaging with their relatives or even talking to their aunt—for reasons they can't understand. This will only send the children the message that adults are strange and irrational and make them deeply uncomfortable at a time when they should be basking in familial warmth. All of you should go. Your wife should run through in her mind seeing your sister and saying, "Hi, Arlene. Hope you're well." Just being able to act normally will reduce the outsize power your sister has exerted over your family for too many years.

Q. Re: Short stature: It's all about attitude. When I was in high school, we had a government teacher who couldn't have been more than 5-feet tall. She also scared the bejesus out of high-school football players.

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A: Love it! Thanks.

Q. Marital Advice Needed: Last night my husband of five and a half years told me, "I used to love you." I sensed his declining affection and compassion for a couple of months now. His idea for a path forward to rebuild our relationship is to focus on doing things together. Despite this, we still get along and have a lovely life. I am hurting and can only talk to my therapist about it. Also, I want children and he doesn't want them anymore. I'll be 35 soon. Any words of advice? (Gah. Just reading this I sound like a cliché.)

A: If you want children, this man is seriously wasting your time. "I don't love you, I won't have children with you. Hey, let's go hiking!" Maybe he's already "hiking the Appalachian Trail" and he just doesn't have the guts to tell you there's someone else. This is very painful and I'm glad you have a therapist. But unless there's a clear and quick commitment from your husband to restore your love and consider children, don't fritter away your fertility on this dead end.

Q. Re: Petite workplace should get everything tailored!: Tailoring is important for anyone who wants to look polished in dress clothes, but it's especially important for those of us short in stature. It's not always cheap, but some hemming, sleeve tapering, shoulder and waist adjustments, etc., can prevent you from looking like you picked up your big sister's old suit. Well-fitted clothes really, really help project a professional image.

A: Another really good point and a reminder of the adage, "Dress for the job you want."

Q. Keep Getting the Same Wrong Man: Well it happened to me again, Prudie. I went out with a guy a few times, we liked each other, talked endless everyday on the phone and via text over the course of two weeks, and then he dropped off the face of the earth. I'm 27, fit, attractive, working my dream job, and I take care of myself and my many wonderful friends. But I haven't gotten beyond three dates with someone in two years. I seem to attract guys who are looking to rebound. The ones I don't like cling to me and the ones I do run away from me. I don't sleep with guys early on (the only sex I've had in two years are a few one-night-stands that left me feeling even more alone). When not dating, I feel like a fairly happy and well-balanced individual, but these rejections are wearing me down. I feel like my time is running out (as stupid as that seems, since I am so young) but at this point I won't get to spend years getting to know someone. I'll never find love. I really liked this most recent guy, and we had such a great rapport, I'm not sure how I've screwed it all up again. All of my friends are married and moving on with their lives and I've been left behind with every emotionally stunted loser in the tri-county area. I've pretty much thrown in the towel on dating. What am I doing wrong?

A: Part of the problem may be contained in your letter. It could be you're conveying a great deal of anxiety and desperation, especially when things start clicking. There you are thinking, "Maybe this is the guy. Maybe this is the guy. Or maybe this is the next guy to dump me unceremoniously and I'm 27 and I'll never, ever find love!" That underlying anxiety can communicate itself in lots of nonverbal ways that men pick up like dog whistles. I know being 27 feels really old to you because it's the oldest you've been. But you are young and should be much more relaxed about what's still ahead. I also think you should check in with your friends and ask them to be really blunt with you about this. Say you know they're not on dates with you, but are they picking up anything in your style or attitude that's turning off interesting men. If any of your friends know some of the guys who abruptly stopped calling, you could ask them to do a little surreptitious reconnaissance for you and ask casually, "Hey, why did you stop seeing Courtney, I thought you two were enjoying each other?" And since you're 27 and feeling desperate, it could be that's a good time to just take a break from looking for love. Enjoy what life has to offer a healthy, successful young person. Being someone happy in her life will have a salutary effect no matter if Mr. Right is not right around the corner.

Q. Mother-in-Law's Dementia: Last week you stated you hoped my husband appreciated what I do for his mother and the answer is yes, almost every time. And often after a week of intensive and difficult in-law care he will say on a Saturday morning, "You've done so much for my folks this week, what should we do today that you'd really like to do?" But the real credit goes to my mother-in-law who was always, before illness struck, supportive, interested, noncritical, and fun to be around. Now that she is ill it is her three daughters-in-law who live the closest and WANT to help with her care. A good lesson for me and my relationship with my children and their significant others. These lessons are taught from one generation to the next. Thanks for the advice, Emily.

A: This is the letter from the daughter-in-law who takes her mother-in-law with dementia out for social events, but is worried that her once lovely MIL sometimes verbally strikes out at strangers because of her illness.

Thank you so much for this update and amazing tribute. I'll say this is taught from one generation to another. As Ruth said in the Bible to her mother-in-law, Naomi, "Whither thou goest, I will go."

Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. Talk to you next week.

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