Help! My Brother Made His Toddler Son Choose a “Manly” Tricycle Helmet.

Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 22 2014 6:00 AM

Boys Will Be Boys

In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman whose brother made his son choose a “manly” tricycle helmet.

(Continued from Page 1)

Q. Re: Infertility: As a woman who has gone through fertility issues, along with IVF, I can say that being honest with them is the best. They will then learn to be more sensitive with their comments. Education is the best route, yes they will say some “stupid” things, but with education it will get easier. Therapy was the best thing I ever did to get through my feelings associated with infertility. Support group was wonderful for both me and my husband. People will still say, “Oh you will just get pregnant one day.” “Not in our case—only the doctors can do that.” That will usually shut them up, as I will not tell them our issues; it is none of their business. I also will say if we are blessed one day with a surprise child, we will take it, but it isn't likely. I encourage the LW to seek therapy and to try to educate those around her. Also on Facebook, block those who post too much about their kids, you can always go check on them when you are in a good place.

A: Thank you for this. Several other women dealing with serious infertility issues have suggested being honest with the family. I agree. I just think the letter writer needs to work through these issues first with others who have been there, and who can help her deal with the inevitable reactions. There will always be some people who don't get it. But yes, telling loved ones that there will be no "surprise" babies will help everyone move on.

Q. Criminal Boyfriend: I am a college-educated woman who is considering a relationship with an old friend of mine. He is handsome, charming, and intelligent, and he has always been an important part of my life. The problem? He went to rehab for a cocaine addiction two years ago and briefly went to jail for possession, but he is clean now. I am an accountant and on the path to being very financially secure, but I am unattractive and awkward, so finding quality men is difficult for me. Am I crazy to consider a relationship with this awesome guy so soon after he turned his life around?

Advertisement

A: It's impossible for me to be able to tell if you are two caring but hurting people who can make life better together, or whether he's a charming manipulator who likes the idea of your steady paycheck. I'm less concerned about him than about you. You obviously are accomplished, smart, and successful, but the only things you have to say about yourself are negative. Instead of launching into a relationship with your pal, start one with a therapist. You may indeed be socially awkward, but you can talk about ways of addressing this. Any you may indeed never make it onto the cover of Vogue—Photoshopped or not—but a trip to a department store and appointments with a personal shopper and makeup artist could do wonders for how you feel about the way you present yourself to the world.

Q. Apologizing for a Hurtful Comment: Last week, I made a stupid off-hand joke to the effect that women with ambiguous gender identities are ugly. It's not something I really believe, and I immediately regretted it as soon as it left my mouth, even though the whole room laughed. It just so happened that there was a woman in the room who rocks an androgynous look. I'd like nothing more than to apologize to her, let her know that what I said was wrong, and that I actually find her really attractive. But I can't figure out an appropriate way to do this, since I don't know her very well, and I'm afraid that bringing it up now will just hurt her feelings more. What's more, I'm not "on the market" so I'm not sure if there's a way to say "you're actually really cute" without sounding like I'm hitting on her and making her feel even more awkward (I'm a queer woman with a more feminine gender presentation). Should I let this go and just try to do better in the future? Or can you help me think of a way to make this right?

A: You made a joke you regret, so your apology doesn't have to be framed as a come on to the person you most obviously might have offended. You say to her, "I said something hurtful and stupid the other day about gender identities. It's not actually what I think, so I'm letting everyone know how much I regret what I said."

Q. Oblivious Micromanaging Boss: I've been at my job for almost three years and love what I do. However, along with raises and a promotion, my boss has gotten worse with her micromanaging. She showered me with compliments when she gave me the new position. Yet she second-guesses everything I do. She often emails my clients to check on my deliverables even though I'm in frequent contact with them. I brought this up during my last review and let her know that I am completely open to feedback. She assured me she trusted me. I'm looking for other work because I feel so suffocated, which makes me sad. Is there any way to approach this again, or is it best left for the exit interview?

A: You're right to look for a new position to get out from under a boss who simultaneously praises then undermines you. But while you're looking, you should definitely address this. The next time you find out she's sent her own emails to your clients, go in and talk to her. Tell her you are concerned that these double emails are sending a negative message to the clients that there is ineffective internal communication within your company and that no one is sure who's on top of things. Try to set up a new system in which you meet weekly with her to go over your accounts and bring her up to date on where they are. Suggest if she has any concerns about your client relations, she bring them to you first so that you aren't unnecessarily clogging the clients' inboxes. And keep looking because it's probable she won't change.

Q. Re: Accents: I spent a semester in the U.K. when I was in school and had the same problem. There just were some sounds I had problems with. It did get better over time.

A: I love watching the British prime minister stand before parliament at question time. When those representative from Scotland start speaking, it might as well be Urdu.

Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. Have a great week.

Check out Dear Prudence's book recommendations in the Slate Store.

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column. 

  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Oct. 31 2014 1:29 PM You, The Gabfest, and a Hotel Room Win tickets to attend a taping of the Political Gabfest, live from David’s Chicago hotel room.