Q. Transphobic Mother: How do I tell my mom that I'm dating a transgender man? I'm an adult, but I still live with my parents, and she has made some jokes about people that are transgender and has said that they don't know what they want. I know that it's within my right to not say anything, but I am very close to my parents, so I hate keeping things from them. She's met the guy in question, so I can't just not mention that he wasn't identified a man at birth. How should I handle this?
A: Since you're an adult, you start working toward being able to live in your own place so that your social life won't fall so directly under your parent's purview. I don't think you should say anything to your parents at this point. You're dating someone who identifies as a man and that's all your mother needs to know. She's met him and didn't have any questions about his gender. If you two decide to marry, then yes, this would be something to discuss with your parents, but that sounds as if it's not now on the agenda. If your mother talking about transgender people is a constant theme, then you should do some educating—and you can make it general for the time being. If she just makes an occasional remark that is not offensive, you can ignore it or address it as the situation demands.
Q. Co-worker Wedding Invite: I am a new teacher and I love my job! I have two wonderful hard-working assistants. However one gets jealous of the other and reverts back to childish behavior (silent treatment) and it will build up for days and explode. This individual also will hear things that weren't said and blow it up! I literally do not know how to fix it because it’s her own issue. She is wonderful at her job 99 percent of the time. That 1 percent is the only time I dread going to school. I am getting married in the near future and will be inviting one of my assistants but not the other. I want advice on how do I face the backlash when she realizes she is not invited? I know there will be backlash but I rarely do for myself and this one day I want to be peaceful.
A: This is not a question about wedding invitation, it's about managing an employee with a serious problem. I wonder if you're teaching math, because I get the feeling your percentages are way off. If your assistant goes cuckoo only 1 percent of the time, that would hardly be noticeable at this point in the school year. But what you describe sounds like a running theme. Yes you're new and inexperienced, but your assistant's personality problem is affecting everyone and needs to be dealt with. If you have no idea how to handle this, go to your administrators, describe what goes on, and ask for their input. As for the invitation dilemma, of course you are entitled to invite whomever you like to your wedding. But if you include only one of two people you work closely with every day and who hold the same position, surely you know this exclusion will get out and you'll just have to deal with the subsequent bad feelings.
Q. Sandwich Generation: My elderly mother-in-law lives in our town in a very nice senior community. Our toddler grandson lives three hours away. My husband and I are old enough to be great-grands (well, at least HE is) but we have only the one young grandbaby. Now that we are retired, we would like to move close to the grandchild so we can be actively involved for as long as we have some energy left. 90-plus-year-old MIL does not want us to move. She thinks we should just drive back and forth to see the baby. This is 1) tiring and 2) does not allow us real involvement. We don't see MIL that often, even though we are in the same town. My husband does not feel close to her (never has, as she is a pleasant but emotionally chilly person). How awful would it be to move anyhow?
A: I can understand that your mother-in-law wants you around for her last years, but your grandchild will quickly pass through toddlerhood and if you want to be there to help be part of his life now (and the parents of this grandchild are on board with your move) you should do it. This will just mean that the three-hour trek will be to see your mother-in-law. Given your current visiting schedule, it doesn't sound as if coming every two weeks or so will be that much of a difference. Make a commitment to come on a predictable schedule and call frequently so that all of you are as comfortable as possible with the new arrangements.
Q. Cheating Friend: I just found out that my best friend has been cheating on her husband for the majority of her marriage of a few years. I've always known it wasn't a perfect marriage, but my friend has always painted herself as a victim of her husband's mistreatment and my support and advice have been based on that perspective. Now that she's dropped this bomb on me—she's cheated with multiple people, some emotional affairs, some just physical—I'm kind of at a loss for how to respond. I think I'm the only person she's told. What is my responsibility here? I still love her as a friend, but I can't respect her actions. If I come on as too judgmental, I know she will never want to talk about it with me again.
A: You respond honestly but temper the outrage. You say that this gives you a totally different understanding of the dynamics of their marriage, you say surely she knows her inability to be physically or emotionally faithful makes a successful marriage impossible. You tell her you love her but find her actions deeply concerning. If she wants total support and will cut you off because you can't give it, then the basis of your friendship is as shaky as that of her marriage.
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