To "Anywhere USA": I have a friend who got married, and no one from the groom's family came to the wedding. The mother had somehow gotten everyone to boycott the wedding. This couple has been married for over 25 years and have 6 wonderful children. The groom's side of the family missed a lot of happiness because of the mother's boycott. In the last couple of years they have tried to get back together, but this mother caused a lot of pain to a whole lot of people over a little thing. Just like the mother in the letter. And I want to ask her, how many 6- and 9-year-old kids really want to go to a boring wedding anyway? What a mess she has created. She has caused so much pain over this stupid thing. Hope she can fix it, but I think it is going to be a long process.
Emily Yoffe: I agree, there is a long road of reconciliation ahead. She has to re-earn the trust of the son whose wedding she missed. She can start by concluding she is at fault and take the blame.
Baltimore: Is it wise to confront my sister-in-law why she never sends my son a birthday gift, whereas I have always sent her kids one for their birthdays?
Emily Yoffe: No, it not generally wise to "confront" family members about their perceived transgressions, especially when the confrontation is a demand that they pony up gifts. Yes, it's annoying, but does your son need another gift? And since there is no gift exchange, you can feel free to send nice but inexpensive gifts to her kids.
Falls Church, Va.: This is about religion at work.
I started a new job about six months ago and I think as soon as I started working here, my boss told me he was a very religious Christian. I was raised Catholic, but I'm more like agnostic now. I have no problem with anyone's religion as long as they don't try to hurt me or convert me. My boss seems to ask lots of personal questions, which is a little weird, but I'm a pretty open person and I haven't really minded much. But now it's getting out of hand.
Last Friday, my boss started a debate with me about religion. It kind of felt like he wants to convince me that his reasoning is correct, but he isn't overtly trying to convert me. I'm patient and I don't mind letting people talk, so I listened and responded to his questions. I'm guilty of responding to his questions, but I never bring up religion at work! Now I just want them to stop. He really disturbed me last Friday when he suddenly changed the conversation to, "I don't think it's fair that I have to tolerate things I don't agree with" (paraphrased).
I have decided I don't want to quit my job, which means I must continue to work with this person. How do I get him to stop without making him not like me or insulting him (though honestly, he insulted me during the "debate")? I guess maybe he already doesn't like me because I don't take the Bible-word-for-word and I believe in evolution.
I tried to find common ground by saying that although I don't agree with him on all points, I agree on the general ones, like lying, cheating, stealing, killing, etc. are wrong—to that he responded that I should read the Bible. This also colors my view of him because his views are so different from mine.
What do I tell myself to keep myself from judging him? At this point, do I try to confront him and ask him to stop so I can stop worrying about when he'll bring up religion next or do I wait until he does and then try to change the subject or otherwise not engage? I don't understand why he would bring all this stuff up at work!
Emily Yoffe: Forget "Judge not, lest ye be judged" because you have correctly judged that your boss couldn't be more out of line by using his power to harass and implicitly threaten you. From now on tell him that your religious beliefs are a private matter and you don't care to discuss them at your place of work. If after that he continues to proselytize or intimidate you, or starts damaging your career, then go to his boss and report him. This guy is potentially a walking EEOC violation, so go to that government Web site and look up your rights.
Johnstown, Pa.: I hope you can help me with an impartial "reality check."
My wife is pregnant with our first child, and the grandparents on both sides are very excited. After the child is born, my wife and I are considering asking both sets of grandparents, and all other family members, not to visit us for the first three weeks or so. We don't want to seem reclusive or prickly, but we want some time to get to know our little guy and establish our own routines and rhythms without a houseful of guests. No matter how helpful and unobtrusive everybody promises to be, having house guests is just one stress too many during a very special time.
However, we realize it seems awfully harsh to ask our parents not to come right away when their grandchild is born.
Are we being reasonable to ask for a little privacy, or should we accept all of the help and advice that grandparents offer as part of the child birth experience?
Emily Yoffe: Let me give you a preview of your rhythms: Midnight feeding, 2 a.m. feeding, 4 a.m feeding, 6 a.m. feeding—you get the picture. You will have the rest of your lives to get to know your little guy, and I assume one thing you want out of life with the little guy is a loving, embracing family around him. It is perfectly fine if you don't want guests staying in the house, so tell everyone where the nearest motels are. But yes, it is rigid and odd to ban grandparents for the first month. And grandparents can be really useful for making casseroles, running to the grocery store for more diapers, taking little guy for a walk while you nap for an hour, etc.
Holidaytown: The holidays are here and so too are the expectations. My parents are great, but every Thanksgiving we load up the car and drive an hour to a cabin in the woods to celebrate with 50 of our relatives and their friends. It's nice in theory except I live four hours away and I don't relish the drive. Also, I don't hear from these extended relatives at any other time of the year.