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Hi Tim
Advice column by Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC.


'Tis the Season to Be Way Too Jolly

Couple in bed

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.

Hi Tim,
I am a girl, 24 who has always been a good girl and I even waited to have sex until I was married to my sexy husband one year ago. Since then, the sex has been nearly constant after I graduated college last year and went to work. We have some kind of sex literally every day, even if it is just a quickie at lunch and several times a day on our days off. We have also gotten adventurous and do it in cars in parking lots, elevators, dressing rooms, outside, and countless other places. The more risky, the more exciting it is for us both! We have also explored various kinks. We made a deal that no fantasy is off limits, and when I was a repressed teenager one of my favorite fantasies was to do it in my parents’ bed. We will be at their house for the Christmas and they will probably leave to run errands and see friends, so I was to sneak in a session in their bed. There may be other relatives there, but we can be quiet. My husband thinks it is disrespectful, but I think he is being a prude! I think he should relax and enjoy it, the way he has in so many other forbidden places.

Also, thanks for the great column and Merry Christmas! — Yule Libido

Hi Libido,
A Merry Christmas to you and yours as well, but it sounds like things cannot get much merrier for you, unless a plan is in the works for you and the hubby to quit your jobs and devote yourselves to full-time sex. I know most of us who have read your letter are either red from embarrassment or green from pure envy, so you have achieved the perfectly holiday reader palette.  Even though you have decked the halls, countertops, back seats and countless other surfaces with your carnal presence, you have a naughty fantasy involving your parents’ bed that does not have a fa-la-la-la-lot of appeal to your husband.

Remember, hubby is a generally open-minded man who has no issues with getting it on in parking lots, retail establishments, and probably waiting rooms, restaurants and inside that city block-sized temple of seasonal fruitcake ingredients in any supermarket right now with minimal encouragement, but even he has a naughty limit. He is uncomfortable with living out your fantasy in question, one that is not uncommon but may arguably feel like impropriety to a son-in-law. You are no longer a teenager, so it may not be as fulfilling as keeping a secret, unfulfilled desire. Given your level connubial bliss, not much else is likely to ever go unfulfilled. You can afford to let this one go for your partner’s comfort, and maybe both of you can indulge yourselves with a full night’s sleep.

Haggard for the Holidays

Hi Tim,
I’m a female college student in my late 20’s in the New York City area. I have a boyfriend and we have to go to his parents’ house upstate for Christmas Eve and celebrate Christmas, then drive through the night to get to my Mom’s house where we celebrate and then travel another 60 miles to go to my grandmother’s to eat dinner, then we have to leave straight from there to get to my father’s house in Jersey by late afternoon where a lot of his side of the family will be coming to meet and play games and visit, but it is crazy and we have been doing this for three years, jamming presents into the car where stuff gets broken and food gets spilled, etc. We’re always late to somebody’s house and then everyone waits for us even though we tell them not to, and of course they’re unhappy with us. How can we make everyone happy and have a Christmas that’s not a stressed-out mess? — Haggard for the Holidays

Hi Haggard,
Part of adulthood is embracing change. I am sure you have already learned that. Another part is learning to say “no” and be assertive without guilt. If the distance cannot afford you a stop to sit down for coffee or even a restroom break or leg stretch, it is too far and it can wait until tomorrow or next week or next month. We must schedule according to our human capacities, and not be unrealistic about holiday get-togethers. If drama ensues when the social schedule gets tight, someone must be bumped and you and the gifts will be just as appreciated, the cocoa or eggnog just as comforting on another day. Remind any relatives who fuss over this solution that you want to have quality time with each of them, not collect speeding tickets while you carry out a succession of obligatory drive-by drops. If any are still fussy, put them in the last manageable time slot available.

Greetings Grinch

Hi Tim,
How are we supposed to know what to say during the holiday season to people who may be of other persuasions? If I can’t say Christmas, do I just guess about Hanukkah or Kwanza, etc.? Happy Holidays seems just as offensive since it is so generic and excludes all of them. I don’t want to offend anyone and assume they are something else, and if they say their thing can I say my thing back or do I say their thing? This is too stress-inducing for what is supposed to be a holiday, please advise! — Greetings Grinch

Hi Greetings Grinch,
My gift to you is a three-sentence solution. No matter which greeting you give or receive: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Winter Solstice, Krampusnacht, or even Festivus, only one reply is necessary. “Thanks, you too.”


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/milanmarkovic78

That Ship Has Sailed

Woman steering a yacht

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.

Hi Tim,
I’m a fairly attractive man in my middle 20’s. By chance, I was invited to a small yacht party this past summer and met the most beautiful, smart, funny woman, who bore a striking resemblance to Brigitte Bardot. We had the most incredible conversation, danced and talked into the early morning hours. We shared an unexpected and passionate kiss. I wanted to ask for her number and at that point realized that I’d lost my cell phone. I excused myself to look for it, and I was gone about 20 minutes but when I found it and came back, she was gone. I’ve gone through the entire guest list, put notices in the local weekly paper, online, and even posted a sign at the marina asking for any information about the woman of my dreams but no one seems to know her personally. My friends think I’m crazy, but I believe love at first sight is possible and I don’t want to give up on finding this woman. Please don’t murder romance by saying I’m crazy! — Waiting for Bardot

Hi Waiting,
Okay, I agree not to say it. But we both know someone else will. Romance is alive! I am grateful for that. You can be grateful that you shared an interlude with an exciting stranger. Then you can set a date, preferably sooner than later, to move on and accept that she is just not that into you. Even if no one else happened to be acquainted with or met her, your tireless and exhaustive quest for la belle inconnue would surely have been met with any mutual interest by now. Maybe she is otherwise committed and simply got carried away by the moonlight by a “fairly attractive” stranger, or something else altogether. Whatever the circumstances, twenty full minutes is long enough to test any enchantment and invite reality back.

I am not sure what your attractiveness had to do with your story, but your confidence sounds promising for your romantic future. You will have one, too and hopefully with someone as hopelessly romantic as yourself. Do not lose that spark, that romanticism, because it will help you find that person. Do not stop dreaming, but get back to the business of living.

Get Thee to No Nunnery

Hi Tim,
I'm a youngish widow (51) and trying to navigate the dating environment again after 24 years 'off the market'. I was never good at the whole dating thing before my marriage — it seems I suck at it even more now. I've been seeing a pattern in my 'relationships' where we do two dates, on date 3 there's physical relations, date 4 a repeat, then things just die out — either on my side or theirs. The expectation that we'll end up in bed by date 3 is putting me off — I've read online this is what ALL men expect now — is that true?

I've also found myself feeling so disheartened by some of the reactions I get when I mention my late husband. He was no saint, I'm not still married to his ghost — but some men don't even want to know he existed. I don't get jealous of their exes — Geez at my age, we ALL have a past. It's getting to a point where entering a convent sounds like a good idea. I'm lonely, but... — JC

Hi JC,
Fortunately for me, you already made the “market” metaphor, and I can pick it up running. So, if you are a product being presented to these customers, and you have been misinformed that the path to customer loyalty is free samples, the result might be a succession of mindless impulse buyers and this seems to be in direct conflict with what you say you want. If you do not want to be intimate by the third date, then stop altogether. No matter what some article or blog says about “what men want today,” it is irrelevant. There are no reliable formulas for dating, at least not with the goal of a lasting relationship. You have been around long enough to know what you want, and now you just need to meet men out there who want the same thing. Meet your own expectations, not someone else’s.

You did not mention how you are meeting people, but online matching services allow users to be very specific about their interests. Whether online or in person, letting someone know you want to “take it slow” speaks volumes and will sift out the less promising suitors quicker. Take all the time you need to get to know someone. I am not making a “buying the cow” reference; I limit myself to one metaphor per response. I am acknowledging that you say it makes you uncomfortable to be physical by the third date. You owe no man anything at any time, so I recommend following only your own heart and internal calendar. Getting to know someone is what may be a big part of attractiveness for you: those shared experiences, embarrassments, private jokes, and yes, the occasional comment about your late husband. Enjoy them and do not give a second thought to who may or may not stick around. When he does, he will be making the commitment for the real you. You do not need a convent, you need to convert… to satisfying yourself first.

If I Ran the Holidays

Hi Tim,
The Christmas season always fills me with dread. My relatives constantly screw with my head. “You’re still at that job?” and “You broke up already?” “Don’t worry; your life will someday be more steady!” Mother, father and brothers all hound me plenty, but I am only an inexperienced lad of twenty. As the holidays loom, I must once again face, that familiar torment only booze will erase. We drink, and we drink, and we drink more and then, some loudmouth inevitably overshares an opinion. The verbal assaults escalate until one by one, we grab our coats and/or guests and exit; the holiday done. Is there some way to avoid this tired Christmas trap, so I may spend one December 26th not feeling like crap? — Sad I Am

Hi Sad I Am,
Oh how I wish I could rhyme like you do! And also make Christmas not so blue for you. You mentioned that alcohol provides holiday cheer, but not how much you folks consume the rest of the year. I do not mean to assume you are a pack of mean alcoholics but goodwill has given way to excessive vitriolics. For some relatives too habitual to change, the best lesson, is your skipping the next family holiday session.

So this Christmas, before the first cardinal sighting, before the lights and candles start lighting, the daying and nighting, and eventual fighting, agree on a drink limit or better yet, dry! It sounds intimidating but cannot hurt to try. If family cannot curb the drinking and get over themselves remind them you can and will celebrate somewhere elves. See, I told you my rhyming is not quite as clever, but I can wish you a sincerely happy holiday and the best New Year ever.


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/paul prescott

Becoming Barnyard Buddies?

Rooster

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.

Hi Tim,
I’m a professional woman in my 20’s and live with my boyfriend, 30’s in his house for the past 9 months, in a neighborhood that is being gentrified. He owns a beautiful, scenic piece of property with a private pond behind the lot and a barn about 200 feet behind that. He has a few animals and keeps a rooster who crows without mercy every morning, frightening me awake on a regular basis. He has had the rooster for several years, and claims that the neighbors have never complained, but when it wanders into our yard it believes it owns the place, crows at and chases me; I’m ready to strangle the thing after one more run in. I keep waiting for neighbors to complain because the lots are not that far apart, but nobody says anything! Am I being unreasonable to ask him to cook it, or at least find it a new home? — Rural Reconsideration

Hi Rural Reconsideration,
Are you sure Green Acres is the place for you? Unless your man is a vegetarian, I suppose you could put herbed rooster on the menu but it sounds like there is an emotional connection, too. The neighbors have not complained, even to you in 9 months about this cantankerous cock. Invest in some earplugs and chicken wire because good fences make good roosters. Enjoy the peaceful scenery, toss some goodies to the cranky old man — I mean the rooster — every once in a while and who knows? You too could be eventually become barnyard buddies.

Oddly Obligated

Hi Tim,
I am a woman, 30’s working in an office that just happens to tolerate office romances, of which there have been plenty. So, not to be left out I started a flirtation with a really cute guy who turned into kind of an “office husband,” and we spend a lot of time together in the office and out. My problem is that he recently decided to attend a conference in an exotic location where he can take a guest, and he wants to take me. We would have separate rooms, but it is clear what he is expecting; to take our relationship to a physical level. I like him but I recently came out of a four-year relationship a couple of months ago and I am not ready to start another one. How do I tell this nice, cute guy with lots of potential that I do not want to go if there is anything physical expected? — Oddly Obligated

Hi Oddly Obligated,
Directly ask work hubby if anything physical is expected. If it is, state the answer as no but reserve the option to change your mind later. If something physical is not expected, be prepared to have to remind him of that and walk away to the hotel bar if necessary, but go and have a great time. No means no means no, period. It simply does not matter if your office has developed a culture of being a part-time dating pool. As an autonomous human being in the world you are not obligated to do anything except your job.

Old Fogey

Hi Tim,
What advice do you have for a teacher re-entering the workforce after a 15 year retirement? I’m a man, almost 80, and lost my wife 2 years ago. I’m in counseling and a support group and got plenty of help with the grieving, and I have even been dating a special lady. But I was recently offered a temporary position teaching for a year, with the likely option to go permanent, for a high school after running my mouth about being bored. The more I think about it, the more I realize I am out of touch with the young world and how ridiculous I will look. I know about technology and social media, but I want to be able to connect with kids and even my grandkids have kids, none of whom I see a lot so how do I get with the times before I get with the job? — Old Fogey

Hi Old Fogey,
I often say that the gap between old and young need not be divisive. If we all spent more time together we would both be so much wiser! So, spend time with young people. Volunteer, spend more time online just getting to know what kids are talking about and responding to today. Find those grandkids, who surely cannot be far above 30, and spend time with them too because they are not terribly far removed. Read up on trends in teaching magazines, newsletters and blogs. You do not need to “get hip,” you merely need to be prepared to meet kids where they are at technologically, educationally, and socially. It will come naturally to old pro of an educator like you.


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/paolofusacchia

Daddy Dearest

Father and son

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.

Hi Tim,
I'm a man, 40s, married for 14 years with a 6 year old son. I hope you can help me settle a dispute with my wife. I believe she's too indulgent with our son. She refuses to spank, and against my better judgment I agreed to that. She constantly hugs and cuddles him and always brings him into our bed where he hogs all the covers and sometimes has accidents. I have been reading about child-rearing and some experts say that a father should be emotionally distant because a mother should be providing affection, and that the way to teach children to survive in the world is to keep a healthy distance and not be so touchy-feely with children, especially boys. It feels to me like this is accurate but these days no one wants to "man up" and love their children at arm's length. I want to be the best father I can be, but how do you know what is the right way? — Fatherly Love

Hi Fatherly Love,
Are you talking about your human son or your dog? I could not quite tell as I read your letter. In the 60's, Diana Baumrind introduced three parenting styles based on her research with preschoolers: authoritarian which is too strict, permissive, which is not strict enough and authoritative parenting, which provides support and security while still allowing children to learn and grow effectively in order to become self-sufficient. A fourth style called uninvolved parenting was later added to describe parents who are generally less responsive to a child's needs, make few if any demands of children and are often indifferent or even neglectful.

Ever since, there have been cretins who claim and promote the uninvolved style as if it were a badge of honor. They may even cite an insignificant amount of questionable research in support of their foolishness. If you are shopping for a magical parenting style, go with authoritative. You may have noticed that it is the only one of the four choices which does not represent an extreme. It will allow you to pair structure with security, focus with fun and, because I love alliteration, challenges with choices that are age-appropriate. It works because it requires more effort from the parent than the child, as it should be.

You do not have to establish a family bed, although there is nothing wrong with that, but turning your son away from the safest haven he knows when he may be frightened by a nightmare or noises or an upset tummy is cruel. Whatever you are reading, if it has a separate approach for girls vs. boys, throw it away or delete it immediately. There is no difference and any opinion to the contrary is nonsense and probably some variation of outdated, disproven theories. Pair structure and limits with exploration and a wide safety net, but most of all pour on the love, love, love and affection all day, every day. Listen to yourself when you suggest shunning your child to make him tough; it sounds ridiculous, but also like abuse. That is nothing more than rejection and it has never worked. Don't buy into whatever quackery you have recently encountered. Instead, love your son with all your heart and express it as often as possible.

America the Berated

Hi Tim,
I am a woman, 30's working in an office. My Eastern European coworker goes on and on about how America is awful. From right-wing politics to religion to slavery to Native American genocide, she's like the "Encyclopedia of All the Ways in Which America Sucks." Her "Typical American..." comments usually set off the eye rolls and start clearing the room, but she is oblivious and keeps going. I know my country is not perfect, but did we do anything right? Incidentally, she had to flee her country due to ethnic cleansing and tyranny, but of course the culture and the food and the language and everything else were so superior that she feels like she is living "in a cultural wasteland." How do we shut her up? — America the Berated

Hi America,
I recommend starting a policy of pledging allegiance to the United States flag every morning, placing little flags on all the desks, slapping a big framed portrait of Uncle Sam on the wall and leaving any lunchtime cheeseburgers open in full view, but only for your amusement. It will not fix your Debby Downer coworker. That is because she likely complains to her compatriots about the Mother Land, and complains at restaurants, department stores, the DMV, in queue anywhere, and at holiday get-togethers. Her negativity is likely not directed only at the U.S.A. She is unhappy, and if her background is as traumatic as it sounds, for good reason. So try to go easy on her if you can, but let her know that as much as you enjoy hearing about her homeland, you are also fond of your own and aware of its shortcomings. So, instead of simply running it down, especially by discussing politics, which is typically frowned upon in the workplace, she should vote and volunteer and commit to helping make the change she desires, and keep the blind rants to herself.

Cooling off for Casual

Hi Tim,
I'm a woman in my mid-20s. I have to break up with a “buddy” after sharing 2 years of mind-blowing sex where he gets an "A plus," but he's definitely flunking personality. He usually lets me know when he wants me to pack up and get out, expects sex at every meeting, is 100% absent emotionally, etc. I'd never go out with him but we were friends and dateless one night and it just happened and kept happening but I have met a new guy who's everything I have been looking for all these years. New guy wants to be monogamous and I agree, but how do I get rid of Mr. Go-To who keeps calling and makes me feel obligated? — Cooling off for Casual

Hi Cooling off for Casual,
I truly appreciate being able to cite a film, especially a popular one, to illustrate my response. If you have not seen Bridesmaids, I highly recommend it. The relationship between Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm may help remind you of the only reason you even bother to hang out with your boy toy; pure lust. You helped each other satisfy a mutual need and now your feelings are no longer mutual. Fortunately, it sounds like any feelings you had for him never moved above the waistline. He also does not sound emotionally invested, or even polite, so you do not have to take your time and be gentle.

It sounds like he may be calling because he has never been officially notified that he is fired. Just ring him up and tell him you are now in a serious relationship with a grown-up so you are no longer going to meet him for play dates. You could thank him for the sex if you feel so inclined, and even offer to be friends if you even care to be around him at all. If you are not feeling any of that, simply say goodbye. "No strings" means never having to say you are sorry. If for some reason he has difficulty with your decision, refer him to get help here and let him go already. Focus on your new relationship and I wish you both the best.


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/Ana Blazic Pavlovic

Bridging the Thigh Gap

Woman measuring her thigh

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.

Hi Tim,
I'm a woman in my late 20's. My boyfriend proposed to me about six months ago, and we'll be married in May 2015. He really is a great guy, so keep an open mind about my story. I've been complaining a little too much about my weight. Even though I'm only carrying about an extra 20 pounds, I've been obsessing on it and so he set a goal for me to get my thigh gap back, which is something he finds attractive on women. He cut out some magazine pictures of women with thigh gaps and posted them all over our apartment for inspiration. He got a measuring tape so we can check my progress. I feel like this is my fault for making a big deal out of my weight, but now it feels like he's going a little overboard. What do you think? — Thigh Aspirations

Hi Thigh Aspirations,
When did the "thigh gap" officially became the new virginity? There is a silly, general assumption that all women had one previously, if only at 8 years old! You were being a normal, nervous bride-to-be by worrying about your weight but his response indicates something troubling. So I am making a new goal for your fiancée. He is now expected to grow a third arm out of his back. No excuses! He needs to figure out how to make that happen. Post pictures all over your home of attractive men with third arms to inspire him (you may have to do a little photoshopping). After all, men with three arms are much more handy around the house and able to do more of everything. If your fiancée cannot grow a third arm out of his back, he must be weak and inadequate! Notify him that when he achieves a third arm on his back, you will get to work right away on attaining that hallmark of feminine excellence and completeness; the sacred thigh gap he requested that will make you worthy of him. If this man does not love you exactly as you are today, and he needs to prove it very convincingly at this point, tell him to take his pathetic little measuring tape and stick it in his own nether regions before walking out of your door for good.

Lumbered and Encumbered

Hi Tim,
What is wrong with my husband? Normally he's neat and clean but for the past year he dresses in lumberjack clothing like flannel and hiking boots and grew a long beard, it looks ridiculous, scratches and I hate it and he won't shave it off! He's made friends with some like-minded guys and all they want to do is go camping and fishing, yuck! They even microbrew beer. Please tell me this is a phase! — Lumbered and Encumbered

Hi Lumbered and Encumbered,
The Lumbersexual movement has arrived, and it is a thing although it appears to be more linked to fashion than lifestyle. Except for your guy; he actually wants to spend more time outdoors, in nature and enjoying exercise and simpler things. If you meditate on that for a while, you may see a benefit or two of this behavior becoming permanent. As for the beard, men grow them for a variety of reasons including No Shave November but sometimes only as a novelty and mostly during the fall and winter seasons. Once the summer sun fries that fuzz, it will become uncomfortably hot, 1,000% itchier, sweaty and therefore impossible to ignore all the bits of food and fluff caught in it. The car heater may even produce the same effect long before next summer. Unless you were saying yuck to beer as well, crack open a few of those microbrews for yourself and relax. If you do not make an issue of his funny facial fur, he may grow tired of it much sooner.

Unwilling Model

Hi Tim,
I am a woman in my 30's working in a large office space. I believe a male coworker is taking creepshots with his phone camera. He always appears to be checking and scrolling on his phone, but he's noticeably different when there's a woman sitting across from him. He even hides the phone in his lap, with both hands there, while talking to her! He has done this with me twice but tends to do this more when the woman is one of the racier dressers, and now more recently a couple of times he has even suspiciously "dropped" his phone and reached to pick it up while it is under a skirt at gatherings and in the elevator! Should I report this or try to get him on video, or could I be overreacting? — Unwilling Model

Hi Unwilling Model,
I have to ask why someone in a professional environment is allowed to fiddle with his phone all day! I would not recommend taping him as his behavior is escalating and it should not be much of a chore for someone from your Human Resources office to capture one his many perverse, part-time porn productions. If caught in the act by authorities, his phone will likely be swiped clean. In other words, yes, report this to your supervisor and Human Resources immediately. There is absolutely no reason at all for surreptitious videotaping of coworkers, period. However, even if there is somehow a logical explanation for his hijinks, at the very least the report should inspire a long-overdue mobile phone policy limiting usage so that employees stop fooling around and get back to work!


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/Sylvie Bouchard

It Was Bronly a Matter of Time

Pony

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.

Hi Tim,
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?

Hi Tim,
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?

Hi Counting,
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.

Unspirited

Hi Tim,
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

Hi 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

I Said Baby ... Not Maybe

Sleeping baby

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.

Hi Tim,
I am 32 yrs. old; I have been married for 5 years and a total of 13 years together. I have been ready to have a baby for the last three years. To which my husband says he is ready because he loves his nieces and kids in general, but won’t commit to having kids. I know he loves me; I know he wants kids with me but says that he doesn’t feel financially ready for that responsibility. We are pretty stable. We bought a house in 2008 in a nice area, we both drive cars that are within 5 years old. We are not rich by all means but stable. My friends and family have been asking for years when we would have kids, of course for the longest WE both weren’t feeling ready; we were traveling and just enjoying ourselves.

Now, I feel like he just has so many excuses not to start a family. Like he doesn’t want to share my attention, not ready to be up caring for a child at night (lame), he is scared that my small body frame will suffer (I have back issues but who doesn’t), he wants me to stay at home and care for the kids and now he is not ready, I mean the reasons go on for days. I just don’t know what else to say or do to convince him that no one is ever ready in the way he thinks he needs to be for a child, people just do it. And give him comfort that we will be just fine. I know people say oh don’t worry 32 you're still young, but that’s their opinion, I would've like to at least have my first child at 30, I don’t think that’s asking for a lot. I don’t know if he will ever be ready, and if/when he does get ready, will my body let us down at that point. I feel like I will blame him for keeping me waiting for so long.

What should I do? How should I let him know I can’t wait anymore?

Thank you,
Wanting a Baby

Hi Wanting,
It sounds like you already have a crying baby to look after. If he thinks staying up all night with a baby is unbearable now, he will definitely not like it in his forties. I am so sorry to hear you both are not on the same page, but the first issue to address is communication. Either he wants a baby, or he does not. Hubby needs to commit to at least having the desire for a child. If communication has been an issue for you two on other issues, brief counseling may help you find some resolution. He must clarify his stance on this issue, because I just hear noise and excuses and stalling at this point and even deciding he simply does not want children will help you decide how to move forward.

Maybe we can help him decide. Assessing how labor-ready your small frame with back pain is can be done by your trained doctor. That doctor is almost certainly also going to advise you that at your age, family planning should start soon. The classic fertility window of age 17-25 for women has certainly been extended well into their 40's, but women and men both face fertility challenges beginning in their 30s. For women, the serious risks to a healthy fetus begin accumulating at an alarming rate beginning at age 35. Check the American Fertility Association and National Institutes of Health for the facts and discuss them at that doctor visit. So, your biological clock seems to be wound correctly, and giving you good information. Your husband, however, needs a reset after getting educated about the significant risks you both face by waiting.

Hubby will always have the money card to play. I still get a good chuckle every time I see that same old article reworked: Can You Afford to Have a Baby? or Cost of Raising a Single Child Up to $500K! This scare tactic does not seem to be working, but the premise is accurate. Unless you are sharing a lofty tax bracket with the other one-percenters you and everyone else cannot afford to have a baby. That baby will break you so you might as well start clipping coupons, bargain shopping, pinching pennies and doing without now because that is where you are headed. If your heart is truly and selflessly committed to parenthood, you will not mind it at all. Make sure you have savings and a retirement fund and that other adult stuff, and maybe start questioning whether you can afford that new car, that house or that vacation the way we seem to easily scrutinize the affordability of parenthood. You may be able to make do with less. Hopefully, you will not be less one husband.

Exed Out

Hi Tim,
What's the ethical way to end a workplace romance? I'm a woman, 20s who had a male work friend for two years. He's so nice, and I usually confided in him about my emotionally difficult boyfriend. After the boyfriend was out of the picture, I dated the work friend for four months but it was soon apparent that we weren't right for each other, at least for me. He was not so much in agreement when I ended things eight months ago. I would have stayed friends and hung out, but he became cold and distant. Since then, I worked things out with the old boyfriend. I'm now engaged and pregnant, but coworker is making another play for me and trying to talk me into giving him another chance before I make the "mistake" of marrying a guy I constantly complained about before. It is not a mistake, the boyfriend cleaned up his act and earned me back so I know what I am doing. However, it just feels like a huge mess at work with my ex-friend angry and having to work with him every day with the tension, sarcasm and hard feelings, as well as the reminders of when my relationship was not working while I'm trying to focus on the present. Any advice? — Exed Out

Hi Exed,
What workplace romance? It was over eight months ago! You tried to end it amicably and coworker was not receptive to it. If he is harassing you, that is a reportable issue but yours sounds like an inner conflict. Perhaps a brief coffee break together would give you the opportunity to tell coworker that you saw a lot of good qualities in him and that is what initially attracted you. But it takes more than attraction to make a relationship work, and you would rather be an honest friend than a phony girlfriend. Remind him that the workplace is no longer a place for talking about anyone's romantic issues, and you can offer to hang out as friends but remember, not everyone can switch from lover to friend; for some folks, over is 100 percent over and that is okay, too. If he must disengage completely as is everyone's right, you two must agree to keep every single interaction work-related going forward. That means not so much as a coffee break or lunch unless it is a larger group event. Time will likely provide a comfortable transfer or promotion or some other kind of move. In the meantime, at least it sounds like you are going to have some respite during maternity leave. Congratulations on that.

Oven Out of Order

Hi Tim,
I am a single girl, 24. My brother's husband works with me, we are all close in age and we spend a lot of time together. A few months ago, they asked me if I'd be willing to carry their baby for them, conceived with brother-in-law's sperm, of course. I am way too young to have anybody's baby, including my own, and I don't think it would matter if we were related, I would just have all these confusing feelings all the time. They have mentioned that they probably could not afford surrogacy unless I agreed to do it for them. My brother accepted my decision, but the husband still brings it up at work and seems to think he can change my mind. He can't. Now, how do I get him to accept my decision? — Oven Out of Order

Hi Oven Out of Order,
You have nothing to explain, so please stop doing it. Men, whether gay or straight, sometimes minimize and even trivialize women's physiology; sometimes due to a sheer lack of knowledge about how women's bodies work and mostly, as it seems in your case, due to obnoxious male entitlement. You own your uterus, it is not a vending machine for babies. You do not "owe" anybody in the world babies simply because your body can produce them. The idea of assisting a relative with reproduction is not for you. Never let a nagging whiner make you start doubting what you know about yourself. It sounds like these fellows may not be so well-informed, either. Cable TV movies and outliers aside, any relative is usually unacceptable as an egg donor or a surrogate. Also, a candidate must have at least one child of her own via a fairly smooth pregnancy before she would even be considered as a surrogate. The best option is to contact a reputable surrogacy agency and make the journey a professional one. Direct them to The Handsome Father, a great resource for aspiring Dads.

As for affording surrogacy, see the first letter above. Almost no one can afford a baby! If your brother and his hubby truly want to be fathers advise them to save, save, save. They are going to need it. There is no "clearance rack," so it will definitely be expensive and difficult regardless of the details. If they complain, ask them what a very wise friend once asked me when I was complaining about the cost of surrogacy: "How much did you pay for your car? How about your house? How about your last vacation?" Perhaps they will be as embarrassed as I was. If those boys truly want a baby, they will make it work or they will not. Either way, it is not your problem. Tell your brother-in-law the subject is closed forever, and any further mention of it may cost him a desperately needed free babysitter later.


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/robhainer







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