Q. Secrets: My husband had cancer treatment this year (he's fine). At the chemo center we encountered the aunt of a friend of mine. We chatted and it emerged that she has a very aggressive cancer with very poor prognosis. She asked me not to tell my friend and I haven't. She was intending not to tell anyone in her family. My friend's mom died a few years ago and she is close to all her aunts and I feel bad that she doesn't know. I also feel her aunt deserves loving care and support from her family. Should I tell my friend somehow?
A: This is somewhat different from the letter about the dying mother with an estranged daughter. It's terribly sad to think that someone with a loving family would want to face a painful death by herself. I understand you're torn, so maybe you could contact this aunt and say you wanted to check in and see how she was doing. Then you could bring up that you don't want to violate her privacy, but you know how much your friend loves her and you're feeling guilty at not letting your friend know what you found out. See what the aunt says—let's hope if there's no real reason for her silence and she will come around. When you saw the aunt at the center, she could have declined to let you know anything about her condition. Her telling all put you in a very difficult situation vis a vis your friend. If the aunt doesn't give you the go-ahead, weigh what you would want your friend to do if the situation were reversed, then act accordingly.
Q. Kids Playing Around Recovering Addicts: My husband and I live across the street from a church. The church runs a halfway house program and also serves breakfast and dinner to homeless individuals on weekdays. Oftentimes the people these programs serve hang around on the street corners and in the park near our home. My husband and I don't feel comfortable allowing our kids (11, 7, 5) play in the front yard or the park without our supervision. We don't think all of the men and women in the program are dangerous, but we've seen them get into fights and be inebriated and passed out. My sister-in-law thinks we are bigoted and that we should become involved in the ministry before we make judgments. Are my husband and I out of line?
A: I don't see how you're out of line to want to supervise young children, period. I'm assuming your very judgmental nonjudgmental sister-in-law sent her children off to a park where people with substance abuse problems gathered. It's a wonderful service this church is performing, but since this minsitry brings troubled people into the neighborhood, the church has a particular obligation to make sure the park remains a safe place for children. So go over and discuss this with them. It is not bigoted to want a park to be free of fighting. I would also stop this discussing this with your high-and-mighty sister-in-law. However, I think she does have a good point that since you're across the street, it might be helpful for your family to volunteer there and feel more connected to this service in your neighborhood.
Q. Re: Sept. 11 Birthday: KidsPost ran an article on it two years ago.
A: Thanks for the link.
Q. Obsessed Mother, Weight Issue: What do you say to someone who was been obsessed with your weight for the last 10 years? I'm in my mid 30s, married and successful, yet my mother talks about my weight constantly, alone and in front of others. She sends me healthy recipes, etc. She talks about things that can come from obesity—heart issues, blood pressure, joint problems, diabetes. I don't think she is doing it to be mean, I think it is a health concern. I have tried many, many times to do a lifestyle change—I lose the weight, then it eventually comes back. I've been to the doctor and my thyroid/sugar is fine. I know I'm fat, I don't need constant reminding. I have told her multiple times that she makes me feel terrible about myself and I end up in tears on the way home from meeting her because of these things she says. How to I get my mom to drop this, once and for all?
A: Your mother has to learn that her nagging is not going to get you to lose weight, but it could make you lose your relationship with her. Next time you see her announce the new rules: "Mom, I know you care about my health, but I'm an adult and you have to stop talking about my weight. I hope you've noticed the only thing you accomplish is to make us both unhappy. So when we're together, no talking about what I eat or my body. If you can't do it, then we can't be together." Then, next time she brings it up you say, "Mom, this has to stop now or I'm leaving." If it doesn't stop you get up and say, "I'll see you some other time, Mom." Either she learns to change the subject, or you stop being the subject of her harangues.
Q. Wedding D.J. Mess: I got married this weekend, and the D.J. was horrible, despite plenty of meetings before the wedding. I won't go into the details, but he was awkward, cheesy, and unprofessional. I was in tears because of this guy. My question is: What is an appropriate response when wedding professionals don't hold up their end of the bargain? Should I write the company a letter? Leave bad reviews on wedding websites? I am so embarrassed that this D.J. tarnished our lovely evening. Hopefully it will be funny one day, but not yet! I want some kind recourse, especially because this company prides itself on its professionalism. What to do?
A: Your letter has me thinking of Adam Sandler as The Wedding Singer, so while I know you're upset, to an outsider it's kind of funny right now. Please do not let some cheeseball leave you in tears thinking your wedding was ruined. Your wedding is ruined when the groom doesn't show up, not when the D.J. is a jerk. Believe me, the best weddings are the ones that give people something to talk about on the ride home. If you can laugh about this with your friends, it will no longer be embarrassing. That said, you didn't get the services you paid for. So absolutely contact the company, enumerate the ways their services went totally wrong, and ask for recompense. In these days of public ratings, they should be very interested in trying to make this right.
Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. Talk to you next week.
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