Q. Re: High Seas Wedding: If the LW hasn't already, I suggest they purchase travel insurance. That way if something (else) happens where they really have to cancel, they're not out all that money.
A: Anyone who is sinking thousands of dollars into a vacation should have travel insurance. But if you read the fine print, while it covers many unforeseen circumstances, I don't think it will pony up for "My parents are acting like jerks."
Q. Son's Request: A few days ago my 10-year-old son asked me to watch a YouTube video. It was a girl putting makeup on her brother. He asked, "Can we do that?" I said, "Not right now; maybe later," because I didn't know what else to say. I don't mind if he'd like to see how he looks, but I feel like I'd be doing something wrong.
A: You were caught unawares and were uncomfortable, so your response was just fine in the moment. Given that you remained calm and didn't express disapproval, I think letting this lie and waiting to see if your son brings it up again is also fine. I have a daughter, and while she practiced with my lipstick a few times when she was that age, I also would have been uncomfortable doing a full makeup on such a young child. If he does bring it up again, I think it's fair to have a calm, honest conversation. Ask him what makes this interesting to him and listen open-mindedly. You can tell him doing makeup on him does make you feel a little uncomfortable, but it's a fair request, and you'll try it. Then make sure the makeup you use is clean—you don't want him to get an eye infection because of this exploration.
Q. Boy/Girl Slumber Party Invite Etiquette: My almost 9-year-old daughter wants to have a slumber party for her birthday party in two weeks. She is quite the tomboy with both boy and girl BFFs. We would like to invite all her friends to spend the night, regardless of gender. All of her previous birthday parties had both genders invited. My question is should I say anything on the initiation about it being boy/girl? And what should I say?
A: Even if your daughter has lots of friends it's not too many for you to pass the word to the parents of the girls that there will be boys there. (That it's a mixed-gender sleep over will be apparent to the parents with sons.) You just say to the girls’ parents you want them to know boys will be sleeping over, too. For any parents who have questions, you explain your plans for supervising the celebration.
Q. Re: 10-year-old and makeup?: Wow, the question clearly wasn't about how to use makeup, or even the age of the child. It's a BOY asking about makeup and this clearly is what freaked the Mom out. This is about gender, not how to use makeup remover.
A: Yes, I totally understood it's a boy, and I totally understood that this made her uncomfortable. I assume your response means the mother's answer should be, "Boys don't wear makeup!" But a generation ago a parent might well have freaked out and said, "Boys don't wear earrings!" I think staying calm and finding out what makes this interesting to him is the way to go.
Q. Re: Teacher with summer break: You went really easy on the teaching spouse. Too easy. Sure, it is great that the teacher has a built-in hiatus. But it would be nice if at least some of that hiatus is used for either doing things around the house or picking up part-time work. This does not have to be 40 hours per week. But I fail to see how it is an imposition to ask a teacher with a three-month break to pick up some slack at home.
A: I said the teacher should get to the undone chores and step up the running of the household. But I don't see how the non-teacher follows through with a demand the teacher get a summer job. Now that they have kids, maybe the teacher will come to see that working at least part of the summer is going to be financially necessary. But it will go much better if this is a realization on the teacher's part, not a punishment from his spouse.
Q. Re: I don't think it will pony up for "My parents are acting like jerks.": Most travel insurance policies allow you to buy (at a higher cost) "cancel at any time for any reason" riders to the standard policy. For a trip of this cost, it would be essential.
A: True, but that kind of rider comes at considerable expense. And if they haven't already got the insurance it's likely too late now—especially since they would be buying it in order to exercise the cancellation clause. But the point is they don't want to cancel and I don't think they should.
Q. Mrs. Scrooge: After dating for two years I recently became engaged to a wonderful man. We've since had the finances talk. Money has always been a bit tight and my fiancé is reluctant to go on big trips or do expensive things. I had no problem with this and simply assumed he earned less than I did. In our time together, we've taken one big international trip and mostly smaller trips around the U.S. We live in a small condo in Boston's Back Bay and he doesn't even own a car. So imagine my shock to learn that he earns nearly double what I do and that he has, at age 29, well over a quarter million in savings. I'm all for prudence (ha, see what I did there!) but surely this is taking it too far and, like Ebenezer Scrooge, forgetting to live life. He says the money is "invested in an IRA that can't be accessed for decades." How do I discuss with him that it's worthwhile to "invest" money in our quality of life?
A: I don't know how you move in together and then wait until you’re engaged to have a talk about finances—let alone having no idea how much money you each make. Your boyfriend may be pathologically cheap, or he may be brilliantly frugal. (And not having a car when living in the Back Bay is simply a sign of good sense.) But you two are not full partners if your finances are so hidden from each other and you have fundamentally different views of what money is for. If after your engagement you are learning shocking news about your beloved, news that makes you look back on everything with a different perspective, then you two have a serious issue you need to deal with before getting any further in the wedding planning.
Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. Talk to you next week.
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Correction, April 1: Due to an editing error, Malaysia Airlines was originally misidentified as Malaysian Airlines.