Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at Washingtonpost.com.

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
Sept. 8 2009 3:18 PM

Are Wedding Gifts Optional?

Prudie counsels a mother whose daughter didn't get enough presents at her nuptials—and other advice seekers.

(Continued from Page 2)

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Same ole story: I was dating someone I thought was a great guy. We were doing all the mushy love stuff, really getting to know each other, taking the physical stuff slow but not too slow and then he just stopped calling. Hasn't returned my one phone call and it's been five days. I know he has revealed to me that he's unkind and a coward, so I'm happy to know that now. What I need to know is how to stop my mind from racing. How to stop myself from hitting the refresh button on my computer, from checking my voice mail every second. Please don't tell me to continue to live my life, to reach out to my friends, to go to the gym. I'm doing all that. But I'm not sleeping because my mind is racing. That is hard to stop. It's like telling someone to stop worrying. Or to make their heart stop beating/beating so fast. Please help me because my molecular structure is changing as I write this and it's not getting any better. And I know this guy did me a favor! But I can't make it stop.

Emily Yoffe: If you were rather seriously dating, it might help for you to get an official recognition that it's over. You can write an e-mail saying that you assume his silence means he doesn't want to continue the relationship anymore, and that a simple acknowledgment of that would be beneficial to you. If he won't even do that (assuming he hasn't been kidnapped), yes, what a cowardly jerk. However, right now you can't believe your mind won't ever stop racing, but I'm here to tell you that I've been in the same situation and that people I thought I'd never get over I probably wouldn't recognize now if they were opposite me on the Metro.

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Los Angeles: I wrote you years ago looking for advice about whether or not to have children. Your advice was helpful then, and now I have a new, larger issue. I recently discovered that my 18-month-old daughter is severely disabled. She may never walk. She will never talk. In terms of mental development, she will never advance beyond the skills and comprehension of a 2-year-old. Since we got the diagnosis, my family has really pulled away from me. After the initial round of tearful hugs and calls, my parents have basically stopped calling and never ask about my daughter when we do talk. Any thoughts about how to address this with them? Anger doesn't go over well in my family, so telling them how hurt and angry I feel (which is worse because of my daughter's condition) may not make things better.

Emily Yoffe: What a heartbreak. I'm so sorry for your daughter's diagnosis. You are going to need so much help in years to come. First of all, join a support group, both in person and online, of other parents who are struggling with the same issues. They will have practical and emotional advice for you—many of them will have dealt with the issue of family members who run in the other direction. But don't feel your family has permanently abandoned you. Everyone is in shock, and though it would be so much better if they were rising to the occasion, some people sink. But it doesn't mean they will never come through. You are justified in your anger, but that's not going to get you what you need: their help. Tell your parents you understand that they don't want to deal with the sadness of this diagnosis, that it is in a way a death of the hopes they had for your daughter's life, but that you still need them in your life and her life. Say that with their support all of you can help each other and make the decisions that are best for your daughter. And, please, find a therapist who specializes in families with disabilities. You are going to need as many outlets as possible for your own anger and fear. Again, I am so sorry.

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Slightly trivial question but important to me: I received an expensive gift for my birthday with no gift certificate enclosed. Unfortunately, the gift is not to my liking—it's a perfume whose scent I just wouldn't wear. Should I mention it to the gift giver or just say thanks (which I already did) and toss it? I feel bad as it is an expensive gift. Please help!

Emily Yoffe: Unless the gift-giver is your boyfriend and he's going to wonder why you never wear his favorite Chanel No. 5, you should just say thanks for the lovely gift. And unless you've ripped open the packaging, go ahead and re-gift.

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Re: New York: Having the you-should-see-a-professional conversation with the sister whose son is a problem will kill the relationship; it happened in my family. I would bet the LW has very little knowledge of the boy's usual behavior, given the infrequency of visits, and is an overbearing know-it-all.

Emily Yoffe: Why would a boy who's usually lovely turn into the kid from The Exorcist on family visits? If the boy is just rude, then the aunt should tell the mother that she can't allow "Bobby" to hit and bite. But doesn't a hitting, biting, swearing 8-year-old indicate something is wrong? And if after having a concerned discussion, the mother wants to pack up her tent and withdraw from the family, at least the child will stop drawing blood from the rest of the family.

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Maple Grove, Iowa: I love your columns. Small question. What do I do about a boyfriend, whom I love very much, but who is constantly getting jealous too easily. He is eight years older than me and thinks every man we meet is trying to sleep with me.

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