Advice column by Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC.
Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC offers advice on family planning and parenting, LGBT issues, disability issues, education and work issues, relationships, ethics and "unusual" social issues. Send questions to Tim for future columns through his website.
Help! My daughter just turned 15. She's a nerd and might be more into My Little Pony than the level I'm comfortable with, but it's wholesome and non-threatening. Until now. She wants to attend a convention a few hours away in costume with a couple of friends. I might have been okay with that until I heard that some of her online "friends" are men in their 30's! Sorry, I have a problem with that! I went to one of these cons with her before and I could honestly live without a repeat of that experience. But I will if I have to do it. Of course, she's completely offended that I don't trust her to go without me. Am I being overprotective? — Hesitant Hoverer
Hi Hesitant Hoverer,
Let this be a lesson to me about running my mouth. Recently, I joked about never having received a Bronies letter and now here it is; well, sort of anyway. Yes, it is a thing! Bronies are adults who are fans of the My Little Pony kid's TV show; mostly men but also women, who sometimes prefer the gender-specific pegasisters. Some of these folks write fan fiction, dress up and take part in conventions. Like the furry fandom, they seem to suffer a lot of negative and undeserved press for allegedly being fetishists who enjoy their pony pals for more than friendship. I encourage folks not to get into a pedophile panic over every adult eccentricity they encounter. Most bronies probably legitimately enjoy being fans and would be harmless company. However, whether they are perverts or not is irrelevant to my response.
Kids and permissive parents beware; you are not going to like my answer. I use the general rule that a teenager should only be allowed to independently participate in activities that they would, well, be able to participate in independently, as if they were unaccompanied and that includes no cab driver. If you are not old enough to drive yourself, then a parent goes with you. So, if your little cherub is not ready to parallel park, then they are not ready to go to conventions and stay in big hotels with a bunch of adults unsupervised. There is nothing wrong with calling stranger danger on events like the one in question but adults also do a lot of non-predatory things that kids have no business being exposed to; they abuse alcohol and drugs, hire sex workers, tip poorly, say ugly things that other adults know they do not mean, complain about mortgages and car payments and interest rates and taxes, trim excess body hair, pay attention to their fiber intake and countless other things in their hotel rooms. A 15 year old should not have to witness that much reality.
If you can stomach another pony romp over the rainbow, I suggest powering through and maybe even trying to enjoy these last few experiences you will share with your little girl. You will probably be shunned like you have the plague most of the time anyway, so you can pay some bills online, get a wax and enjoy a bottle of wine. Be sure to get enough fiber, too.
Counting to 2015?
2014 has been the worst year! Terrorist attacks around the world, Malaysian Flight 370 disappears never to be found, plane crashes in Taiwan and Mali, Russia and Ukraine conflict, boats sinking in Uganda and Korea, missing students in Mexico, mudslides, avalanches, a mine explosion in Turkey, Ebola, Ferguson, more U.S. troops deployed, to name only a few and we are only up to November! How can I look forward to the new year when we carry all this crap in from the last, miserable year we have all had? — Counting to 2015?
I can tell you are going to be a hit during the holidays! Are you a coworker to the letter writer below? I understand that we have all been wading through it this year, and current events like those over the last 10 months can take their toll on your spirit. But remember, if you follow television news all that despair you have been ingesting is usually selected and packaged for your consumption to maximize anxiety and keep you comfort-shopping. The misinformation and bias for self-promotion in social media is even worse. There are thousands of injustices you never heard about this year, thousands of lives lost, and many disasters. It is so much worse than you even knew but there would be no way to cover it all. Instead, you get a few of the worst stories hammered mercilessly into your brain. I strongly recommend Associated Press or Reuters, both of which have mobile apps. You get much less negative spin with those direct news sources.
It is highly unlikely, no matter what your source of current events, that anyone is talking about the good news. No one really needs to warn the public about good news, but there are sources who do and in doing so help restore a little of our faith and hope. Happiness News, Good News Network and HuffPost Good News all provide positive coverage. I might be slightly biased, but Utne Reader also seems to print a lot of positivity. Try clicking around in those sites and see if your mood does not improve. There is plenty of goodness out there in the world; you just have to look a little harder for it.
I'm on a holiday party committee at work where we've had a crappy few months, no one seems interested in the office party and I already know few will attend. I know because they've been nasty and sarcastic about declining in their replies to my initial email. I was given a decent budget but why waste it on these crabs? I've given up raising morale, how do I get out of this and cancel the whole thing? — Unspirited
As you can see above, we are all smarting from 2014 and things could be better, but like Michael J. Fox says, "Happiness is a decision." Sniping and jabbing at each other is not going to ease the pain, so here's what you can do. Scrap that office party and locate an over-the-top magic or medieval themed or live music restaurant where it is impossible not to be entertained. Sell it as being as corny as it sounds, take a head count and make that reservation. Request the most outrageous, embarrassing experience for your coworkers and take lots of pictures to share afterward, preferably in common areas. Make sure the fuddy-duddies know what hilarity they missed, and they might decide to pull out those sticks before the next hootenanny.
Editor’s Note: The opinions offered in this blog are the author's alone. Tim White, and any experts he may consult and/or quote in responses to letters, will never provide medical or psychological advice, diagnoses, treatment, or counseling of any kind. General advice, opinions, and suggestions may be offered with no obligation on the part of readers to accept or act upon the content published within this column. Anyone in immediate crisis and/or mental/physical distress should call 911 or related resources of assistance.
Photo by Fotolia/Stefano Garau