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


Color Me Trouble

nuclear clown

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 woman, 38 years young, and big kid at heart; friendly, cheerful and social. I am one of those morning people full of coffee who are so cheerful they sometimes get on others' nerves. I wear youngish clothes in bright colors like overalls, loud prints and bright sneakers, or striped socks and hats with big plastic purses and costume jewelry. I like to wear my red hair in pigtails or very curly and wild. I have always been childlike in the way I dress and act and it has never been a problem until recently. I have been working as a receptionist at a small office for an attorney over the past few months, and I have gotten stares but my boss asked me to change my wardrobe because clients are put off by my appearance. Is that acceptable? We don't even have a dress code! Should I take this lying down or fight to be who I am?
- Cheery Chick

Hi Cheery,
If your office does not currently have a dress code I think you have inspired one. You sound about two tablespoons of clown white away from the circus. I tried to imagine all possible reactions I might have if I were arriving at my attorney's office clutching my neck brace, or limping painfully, having lived through the trauma of getting rear-ended by a city bus, mauled by a pit bull, or worse; an IRS audit, only to be greeted by a caffeine-charged Raggedy Ann or Pippi Longstocking galloping up to me barking salutations; somewhere near the top of my list was "sheer terror," depending on how much caffeine I had that morning. It is great you bring energy and enthusiasm to your workplace, and a pediatrician or toy store may be ideal for employees with a penchant for the perky, but legal proceedings provide enough surprises; the ambience should be as somber as possible. I am not a professional stylist, but there is room for compromise at your place of work if you are willing. You could pair smart and subdued suit pieces with colorful belts or shoes or other accessories or tie up that merry mop with a bright bow, thereby making your outfit pop, not explode all over the room like a dirty bomb.

Reconnected Ex

Hi Tim,
I am a mid-forties woman, divorced five years after 20 years of marriage. I've dated before, but nothing serious, since I have high standards. My ex-husband has stayed connected only through our two kids, and has been a fine father. Although he cheated on me and lied about it more than once, which ended our marriage, he seems to have been a decent husband to his new wife of three years (she is not one he cheated with). Last weekend, we got together to discuss our daughter's upcoming wedding. We felt comfortable alone together for the first time in a long time, and he confessed that he wanted to sleep with me! He wants to make it a regular thing, and rationalizes that I would not have to trust him anymore, just have fun the way we used to and keep it casual. I am lonely, still attracted to him, and he can pour on the charm when he wants to. What would the harm be?
- Reconnected Ex

Hi Reconnected, 
It sounds like It's Complicated. No, seriously: the plot of the 2009 comedy film, give or take a few details. Your ex-husband is married to a woman who, like you at one time, trusts him. You even noted she was not one of his paramours. Is there some reason she does not deserve the respect you did not receive? You say you want to throw caution to the wind, but the path you are considering is lousy with caution. What could be more comfortable and safe than hopping in the sack with this familiar guy; a guy who is also unable to be honest with any mate. This is the same old routine for him, and only fake-naughty for you. I am not even convinced that you are convinced; if so, why write me and mention your high standards? All this energy and time taken up by Mr. Disappointment might be better spent on a new, single someone out there with a better personality.

All Human and Loving It

Hi Tim, 
I am a 20-year-old, red-blooded woman with definite needs who is attracted to the most smoking hot, fit boy with an actual brain and a sense of humor. When I say fit I mean chiseled like an underwear model. Perfect body. He likes me too and we are just starting to get to know each other. Now for the problem. He was very upfront that he is an otherkin. He believes that instead of human he is a therian wolf in a human body; not a lycanthrope, just internally wolfen. It's okay I guess, I have read a lot about it and I am trying to get on board, because he is dead serious about it, although I gather sex would be normal, but in between he wears a collar, eats out of a bowl on the floor, etc. I have to mind my pronouns too. Look, I am a very horny, open-minded girl with a lot of room to grow, but how does one grow around this nonsense?
- All Human and Loving It

Hi All Human, 
Otherkin, for those unaware, believe themselves to be partially non-human in spirit, but typically fully acknowledge their human body. Explanations include reincarnation, nonhuman soul ancestry and parallel universes. They may identify as real-life animals or creatures from fiction, or mythical creatures like angels, dragons, fairies, elves and animals, among other beings. Their interest in the paranormal has earned their belief system status as a "quasi-religion" that flourishes on the internet. The identification with their spirit can be quite integrated into daily life, complete with adjusted pronouns. You wrote that he was upfront about his orientation. If this is too off-the-map for you now, the routine out of bed may be much tougher for a nonbeliever to accomodate than a simple kink. The question you need to address with each other is what you expect from getting closer. Will you be happy only romping with your canine Adonis, or will you expect him to become domesticated?

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 courtesy Tao WU, licensed under Creative Commons


Whose History Is It Anyway?

files

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 grandmother who adopted all my children and I have been blessed with many grandchildren. All our adoptions happened back in the 50's and they were completely closed with sealed records. One of my daughters initially asked for the names and personal information of her birth family and I gave her everything I had, which was very little. She decided she was not interested in finding any biological relatives and dropped the subject over 30 years ago. However, her son is in his thirties and has had some health issues, and he has pleaded with her to give him information, but she refuses and says it's too painful for her to think about any contact.

Now, he has come to me looking for information and is put off by my reluctance to be so generous with my daughter's personal information. She will be offended by me if I help him, and he will be if I don't. I see this as a matter between mother and son that should not concern me, but how do I make my grandson understand my awkward position?
- Third Party

Hi Third Party,
I am personally and professionally familiar with adoption, and dilemmas similar to your own. However, I will refer you to The Children's Bureau—a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services— for specific details for your state because restrictions do vary between jurisdictions.

In general, only non-identifying information is provided to adopting parents and this often includes medical information, but it sounds like yours did not. When an adopted child turns 18, they have this access. Identifying information for birth parents may be available by mutual consents between birth parents, adoptees and even birth siblings, or a court order for compelling reasons. However, without these conditions, provisions are likely only going to afford the adopted adult access. In this case, your daughter to whom you already gave said details.

You are, in fact, not the conservator of your daughter's birth records simply because you adopted her. She and her son are adults and they must work this out between themselves. It a troubling indicator of the state of their relationship that they cannot, and although you did not mention any other struggle between them, I would suggest both see a counselor to help them process these distressing circumstances. Any contribution by you would only be interference. You can tell them this, make a referral to a therapist, and reassure them both that you love and support them. But you cannot make decisions that belong to someone else.

Couger Bagger

Hi Tim,
Mid-20s man in a relationship of three weeks with an amazing cougar who is almost 60. She is smart, funny, active, and sexy with a high libido that I love to satisfy. I have always preferred older women but I think she might be my soul mate. She is kinky and I am mostly game but one kink turns me off. She lives with her mother who is in her 70's. Both of them are fit, aged really well and look 20 years younger than they are. I made the remark that her mother was hot, and this managed to arouse her. Now she wants me to seduce her mother and tells me it would turn her on to know I was also sleeping with her! She tells me her mother is agreeable but she does not seem to know. This has made my girlfriend much less attractive to me. Why would she ask me to sleep with her mother?
- Cougar Bagger

Hi Cougar Bagger,
Congratulations, you made it across Age Gap but it looks like Kink Mountain may be insurmountable. Somehow I doubt that cougar is a term your beloved enjoys hearing shouted during the throes of your routine and vigorous lovemaking sessions. I also doubt that her geriatric mother would want to hear it, see it, or join in it. Soul mate means different things to different people, indeed, but I am willing to bet it does not mean "that lover whose mother I occasionally shag" to you. I am understanding you to have different relationship goals, and at three weeks you may simply be realizing this is not the right partner for you. If so, it is better to part ways now before she tries to pimp you out to her bridge party or bingo buddies.

Puzzler

Hi Tim,
I can’t really express what I need to say ... It’s like, when you prepare and build up to something and you're ready to give it your best, and in the end there’s always a reason why it can’t go your way and something intervenes and causes you to go off track, on an endless loop like history repeating itself. I see what's ahead like crystal clear, but I can’t convince anyone else or by the time I do, it's too late. I feel like I carry that around all day like this big, heavy weight that's a burden, or is that my gift and I haven’t been able to acknowledge it so if I just owned it I could be deliberately making the right small decisions every day like the one I'm faced with now. Which route do I take? What's happening to me?
- Puzzler

Hi Puzzler,
I am going to be as direct with you as you have been with me. I feel as puzzled as your letter leads me to believe you might be unless you are not. One the one hand, you have that thing, and over here you have this thing. What you have to remember is that the two things can be done separately or together or not at all, but no matter which way you choose you will have to give it some careful thought because you are going to have to live with the results. Remember; no matter where you go, there you are.

I would tell you to sleep on it but I fear you may already have been mostly asleep as you penned this mysterious prose, or at least fairly stoned, so I do not want to encourage you to get any fuzzier, in hopes that someone may come along and be able to extract from you the crucial information that you withheld from me. Next time, try cutting that brownie in halves or even quarters. Good luck to 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 courtesy Evelyn Giggles, licensed under Creative Commons


Bully's Burden

bully

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 man in my 50's who taunted and teased a quiet, smaller boy when we were in elementary through junior high. Me and my friends cornered him in school and in the neighborhood. Sometimes we hit and kicked and humiliated him, too. I can't even remember the exact reason except that he was small. He was taught to fight by someone older and fought back, which is when I backed off but the other boys reacted by ganging up on him and causing him serious injuries. He was in the hospital and recovered, but immediately his family moved. I recently reconnected with a friend from high school, who is unaware of the bullying, but she has been his romantic partner for the past 4 years. She told me he has terminal cancer without much time left. I have been a good person since that and my family is doing well. I believe that I changed. Should I visit this person and make amends?  Would that help ease his pain at all?
- Ex Bully 

Hi Ex Bully,
Thank you for your letter. It reminds me of that classic but wretched sitcom plot; kid gets bullied, relative teaches him how to fight "like a man," and then he scares off the bullies. Making peace is not so simple in real life. Teaching a victim to be violent can be like pouring gasoline on a fire. We need to teach our children self-defense for confidence and safety. However, as a knee-jerk reaction to current bullying it is counterproductive. What you are telling a victim is that violence is the answer. You are also leading this David to believe that standing up to Goliath will fix the problem once and for all. In fact, violence tends to incite more violence until someone is seriously hurt, or so chronically angry that victims romanticize revenge violence and ultimately carry it out, or internalize it and hurt or even kill themselves. The bully's behavior, and not the victim's, is the problem. 

In reference to your inner conflict, circumstances make all the difference. If you had become friends and stayed in touch with this victim, or if he were not terminally ill, then a letter or a call may have been innocuous. You do not even know this man, or why you helped a gang of cruel children terrorize him. Maybe if you had ever been stalked and assaulted as you simply tried to attend school or walk to the corner store, or had to constantly look over your shoulder every time you ventured out into daylight you might better understand his experience. But you did not. I imagine your former victim might consider the same conclusion I have; you want closure for yourself. I am happy to hear you have learned from your mistakes, and you may very well have changed. But the guilt belongs to you, forever. You should not swoop in for a quick confession and absolution via acknowledgement of your past cruelty. It sounds like you and the friend will be okay at a distance since three decades have already passed. That boy has made a life for himself without any apology from you and may never have given you a thought over the years. If you need closure for yourself, speak with a therapist on your own time or volunteer to help others. Mind your own business and give this man some peace.

Femme Nazi

Hi Tim,
I am an attractive, single, straight, female graduate student in my late 20's. I happen to be very involved in women's causes. I work at a women's bookstore, volunteer at a rape crisis center, and run a campus women's organization that provides information and the occasional peaceful protest. I have been in the local paper due to these efforts, and gotten a reputation around campus, and our small town. Unfortunately, that reputation paints me as a ball-busting, man-hating lesbian, and none of these are accurate. I am quite attracted to men, at least the ones who use their brain, and I even like girly things but I would feel like I am sending the wrong message if I indulged that part of me. I just happen to need equality. But I have other needs too, and the few men who have dared to ask me out won't make a move on me because of that reputation. How can I get a willing date? Since you are a male feminist I thought you might offer a fresh but sensible perspective.
- Femme Nazi

Hi Femme Nazi,
First, I hope you change your nickname. Second, be sure to take some time for yourself and do something you enjoy regularly; something that has nothing to do with working or volunteering but brings you joy. Third, nothing at all. You are supporting a social cause that is worthy and your leadership is desperately needed and invaluable. Take care of your physical and mental health, and do not let the cause crowd out your personal life. You know that any changes you made would be for a potential man, and I do not recommend it. Wear girly clothes, or get a pedicure or whatever it is that makes you feel girly. Do not worry about the "image" you are presenting, your actions speak a lot louder than any wardrobe or hairstyle or mannerisms. Attend some non-cause gatherings as yourself, not a representative or role model for anything. Living only that way can be exhausting. There are indeed a few guys out there who are mature and equality-minded enough to appreciate your natural style, your passion for the cause and your commitment to action. 

Worried Witness

Hi Tim,
I am a man, 30-something, and associate professor at a private university. I was asked to retrieve some information for a much older colleague who was at conference. This information was on his personal laptop in his office. I was on the phone with him when he gave me the password and I unlocked it. I was greeted with a desktop brimming with open pornographic pictures and some videos! It was so unexpected that I stammered while he gave me instructions, and I think he could tell I was having trouble concentrating. I closed the pictures on the desktop so he wouldn't think I had seen them. Now he is behaving strangely toward me. I am an awful liar, I could never convince him that I was ignorant of his collection. We aren't close but do work together on a few committees, so I will see him often. Do I just come out with it to ease this tension?
- Worried Witness

Hi Worried Witness,
I suggest that if he ever calls you and asks you to enter his car or home, to politely decline. I assume that all models in question were at least 18 years old, or you would have mentioned otherwise as you mentioned that the laptop did not belong to the university. This avoids most if not all conduct violations. I usually have to tell snoopers that they got what they deserved, but yours is a pickle from a different jar. Your discovery was made during a favor executed in good faith. I suggest you give that good faith one more try and do your best to "unsee" what you saw. You have not a single clue of the origins of this racy research. It could be a teenage relative who borrowed the laptop. Or, maybe this colleague likes looking at legal pornography on his personal laptop ... not exactly scandalous. Whatever the circumstances, focus on your committee work together and in time, the memory should fade. If you are not able to do so, then perhaps on the sly mention, "Hubert, you may want to be careful of your desktop artwork, it looked a bit unorganized, just FYI." Try to laugh it off together, relax and get to work on forgetting as soon as possible. 

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 courtesy Thomas Ricker, licensed under Creative Commons


Dear White on White People Jokers

Guy Laughing at Computer Screen

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. 

Whites are Jerky

Hi Tim,
I am a White girl, 22 and see friends who are also White on social media all the time, posting or sharing white people jokes. Should that be offensive to me? I don’t joke about other races and cultures. I can understand why other ethnicities would tell these jokes. But how is it hip and cool for Whites to make fun of themselves? I ignored the first 100 or so jokes, memes and even anti-White slurs, but this creeps me out now and I am not completely sure why. Any ideas?

—Whites are Jerky

Dear Whites are Jerky,
I see your point. If ethnocentric majority members usurp humor from minority groups, how is that not misappropriating culture? It stands to reason that would be exactly the sort of behavior an entitled and oppressive group would demonstrate!

It is creepy when any group makes insulting jokes about other groups, sports fans respectfully excluded. Jokes and slurs keep us apart, when we need to come together. They are based on outdated and inaccurate stereotypes, so they do not offer much clever humor either. If you do not want to hear ugly words and stereotypes about your own group, then grow up and stop spreading the same kind of nonsense about other groups.

I come from a family of multiple colors and growing up I was very touchy about race and any kind of slight that I found offensive to my family. The persons of color in my family always told me to lighten up and rise above it. They were so right but sometimes people need to be called out. If you want to avoid hearing this boorish twaddle, ignore posts and politely interject and alert the speaker to “Stop right there if this joke is aimed at any race or culture, I do not partake because I only want to put peace and love out into the world.” This may give them a new target for ridicule, but may also eventually help them understand the weight of their words.

Whatsexual?

Hi Tim,
My 17 year old daughter recently came out as asexual. She’d already come out and gone from questioning to bisexual, but now she’s saying that the confusion came from wanting to choose something to be normal, when she knew all along that gender was not important because she has absolutely no interest in sex. She’s always been on the honor roll, very talented, never been in trouble, never drank or did drugs, has good friends and seems to enjoy life, but I can’t help feeling confused myself. How do you support no choice? What about dating, and not that I want to think about my daughter’s sex life but it is sad she will not know the joy of sharing love with someone. And what about my grandchildren?

—Whatsexual? 

Hi Whatsexual,
Your teenage whiz kid and happy, substance-free social butterfly has no interest in sex? Most parents, including myself, would congratulate you on hitting the jackpot! However, I understand how you may be confused about the label “asexual” and how hormone-addled kids could possibly identify that way.

Asexuality is a bona fide thing that you may learn more about from the Asexual Visibility and Education Network. Sexuality, like gender, is not as easy to categorize and sort, as we believed in the past. Concepts like these are better represented on a continuum, where anything can and does happen quite naturally. Asexuality is not celibacy, which is chosen. Rather, asexual persons identify this way because they do not experience sexual attraction. Asexual folks can be attracted to the same or other sex; in fact this may be a temporary stop on the way to their destination. They even have long-term romantic relationships. Most importantly, this lack of sexual attraction is not considered a problem to be corrected; they simply get pleasure from other things in life.

So, it is really not difficult to root for a teenager who identifies as asexual. Whatever road they are on, it is much less bumpy when you have families who accept you as you are and do not fret over their sexual health or reproductive capacity. Worry less and enjoy your daughter, just as she is, more.

Shock & Ugh

Hi Tim,
A new coworker and I occasionally make a couple of work-related trips during the day. He seemed like a really nice, clean-cut guy, with a pleasant enough personality. One day we pulled up to a building, my coworker was driving and waiting on a parking spot, and someone zipped in and took the spot from us. He got so upset he was swearing and zipping across the parking lot, looking for a space that he found pretty far away. He said nothing, but walked past the car that stole the spot, keys in hand and put a scrape all the way up the side of the car! I was so shocked, I did not know what to say and I noticed there were security cameras on the building.  

Later, he laughed about it and assured me that anyone who messes with him is going to pay. He also indicated that he had done this and worse things to others who “messed with” him and I think this may have been a threat to me. Should I report this to someone? I know I should have when it happened, but I was kind of in shock.  

—Shock & Ugh

Hi Shock & Ugh,
Forgive me for stating the obvious, but do not ever make another trip with your sociopathic coworker. If losing a parking spot provokes vandalism, I would not want to find out what happens when someone cuts in his line or short-changes him.

You, along with the event, are apparently already on tape and so a record is out there. It could be unproductive to backtrack to the store and suggest looking at security tapes, when they will do this anyway for the car owner. You cannot control another human being, and fearing retaliation may not be a perfect excuse but it definitely justifies not saying anything at the time.

The real key here is that you were engaged in some kind of work activity when it happened and will likely expected to return to the field with this charmer in the future. This is why you must alert your human resources department to what happened. If there is an investigation they may find out anyway. I would proceed by making your HR office the first stop, and let them advise you on how to proceed. You may ask for some measure of anonymity to avoid retaliation, and make certain they understand the indirect threats made. This may not be an ideal solution, but it sounds safer than another antisocial adventure with this miscreant.

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 courtesy Fotolia/LoloStock

Currently Clueless

cubicles

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 woman in my mid-20's with a professional job at a telecomm company. We have the typical office setting, where coworkers take breaks together and convene during lunch in a cafeteria, and conversations get started. But lately, when I have tried to contribute and offer my opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or Russia-Ukraine conflict, or politics, people seem to be uneasy, and now they are avoiding me completely! It seems fine for others to share their opinions on current events like this, and I do not have an odd opinion, I am not the weird outlier or freak, and I consider myself informed since I do only watch cable news at home. Now I can't even sit down near someone silently without them walking away! Aren't we all adults? Don't we care? If celebrities can tweet their positions on controversial topics why are we so sensitive about this stuff?
- Exiled Employee 

Hi Exiled, 
I am going to be harsh, but this is because I care about helping you. What you are calling "stuff" is something you do not seem to be connected with personally. Let me remind you that people are losing their lives and their childrens' and parents' lives over this "stuff." Your idea of water-cooler and snack break chat topics are offensive and inappropriate for most workplaces.

Please do not be the stereotypical American and "pick your side," like spectators at the O.K. Corral. This is not a football game or American Idol. The State Department is not on pins and needles waiting for your call on the red phone.There are conflicts in the world to which you are not a party and are not entitled to pick a side. You judge the merit of your opinion on whether or not it dissents from the majority in your group? Is your opinion an informed one or just regurgitation of the manufactured slop you have been spoon-fed by mass and social media?

Was Syria taken by another table at the cafeteria? How about North and South Korea? When you plan these depressing coffee clatches do you ever consider topics that never make the news? In fact, popular cable news networks have disturbing omissions, and outrageous bias, on both sides depending on the “brand” of news. Compare coverage of a single story between networks; it spins like a top. I would suggest the closest to objectivity as the wire that all news sources use: Associated Press (AP), Reuters and Agence France-Presse (AFP) all offer apps so you can also enjoy constant alerts. You will benefit the most from using all three so you can compare and sift out any spin that seeps into these agencies.

Read, read, and read some more. Read some history. Argue both sides for yourself. Imagine what you would do if you were in either place. Think about the issues critically in your own head. When you have a solid opinion you can back up with plenty of references, congratulations. Be selective about sharing; do not ever share it at work again. Even amongst friends there may only be one or two who can derive the kind of satisfaction you do from such discourse. For those who do, test it out with him or her, argue both sides, play devil’s advocate, etc.

Since you will hopefully have a new appreciation for the suffering of others, you may not want to simply go online and rant endlessly about it because that does nothing to ease the plight of those for whom you choose to advocate. Text talk is cheap, and too many celebrities “pick a side” and draw more misdirected attention. I would seriously rule out celebrity rants as a source of information but I will reference a celebrity quote. The incredibly talented Brad Pitt absolutely nailed it with this dated yet timeless, spot-on quote regarding “celebrity opinions.”

You shouldn't speak until you know what you're talking about. That's why I get uncomfortable with interviews. Reporters ask me what I feel China should do about Tibet. Who cares what I think China should do? I'm a f**king actor! They hand me a script. I act. I'm here for entertainment. Basically, when you whittle everything away, I'm a grown man who puts on makeup. - From "A Conversation Runs Through It" by Bruce Handy, Time magazine, 13 October 1997.

The truly committed, like Mr. Pitt and the equally incredibly talented Angelina Jolie for example (I did not plan to reference them together, but good for them), act on their convictions. So if you really care, put your money where your opinion is and donate or if money is tight, then volunteer. Stuffing envelopes, providing graphic design or other services, educating the public, putting together relief packages, whatever you like it is needed desperately and a non-profit is waiting to sign you up. You say you are bothered by injustice, war, etc. Prove it. Stop running your mouth and take some action. Help the people you are supposed to care so much about.

Husband on the Edge

Hi Tim, 
I know this seems trivial, but I am a man, 39 and married to my wife, also 39 for 14 years. She has lost a lot of weight recently (60 lbs.) but insists on wearing "skinny clothes." Such as jeans, shorts, etc. I love her body and always will, and the new look is pretty sexy in my opinion but maybe these are not the best clothes for her to be wearing at her age? My 17 year-old daughter mentioned it to me. She said that my wife is embarrassing herself and that I should confront her about this if I care about her at all. Should I tell her?
-Husband on the Edge

Hi Edgy,
No.

I would have ended it there, but I want to avoid any misunderstanding. I am not advising you to keep quiet because women are potentially unhinged, hormone-driven time bombs that question themselves and erupt into tears and/or physical violence over the slightest provocation. Rather, I am understanding that the opinion that concerns you is not your own. Your daughter is the party with the concern for her stepmother’s public appearance, not you. That is her problem to deal with as she sees fit. In your own words, you are happy and even aroused by your beloved and her new look, so honesty is the best policy. You do not have a problem so say nothing. If you are on the spot and she questions you directly— “Honey, does my [noun] look [adjective] in this?”—just relax, breathe and tell the truth. She is going to know you told the truth and appreciate you for it in the long run. If she doesn’t, send her the link to this page and blame it all on me.

Third Wheel

Hi Tim, 
I am a single woman, 28, dating a guy for 2 months I have known about six months. We have been pretty casual about the whole thing but he suggested we take it up a notch, as he put it "to the next level" and meet each others families. We started partying with my younger sister and her friends, and now we meet out every weekend but his behavior has changed. Sometimes we all go to a gay bar, and one of my sister's good friends is an extremely flamboyant gay guy, an actor who is 19 and very sweet, but he and my date get very drunk. They danced together, took off their shirts kind of pawed at and humped each other on the dance floor, with visible erections by the way, get other boys in on the action and sometimes disappear together, started sharing little private jokes and usually become inseparable for the night. I had to catch a cab home twice now because my date refused to leave.

I confronted him and he says that I am overreacting, that he is just open-minded and capable of being friends with a gay guy. I have my share of gay guy friends and I have never gotten so much as a blip on my gaydar for this man. We have had a physical relationship that has been just fine, but I am not okay with being ignored. Should I be worried?
- Third Wheel

Hi Third Wheel,
Gee, maybe your guy is gay. I cannot really say because, as hard as I tried, I simply cannot make myself care. Whatever his orientation, he sounds like an absolute cretin. Being ignored at these multiple get-togethers should be sending you an incredibly strong message, even if there is a logical explanation for the sweaty, gyrating, half-clothed sex acts performed during his dance floor circuit boy orgies and dark-corner, man-on-man interludes.

A lover, who professes to love you, as in romantic love and announces “meet the parents” events as an understood milestone, would have the decency to at least give you a ride home! You sound like you want to trust this man and envision a life together. Please do not do that. It is garbage day so take him out to the curb and dump him. I would be shocked if he came around later, but do you really care? If his behavior is this rude and insensitive so early in your relationship, one more day seems like a complete waste of your time.

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 courtesy Bill Abbott, licensed under Creative Commons


Family Feuding through Facebook

Facebook dislike

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,
My sister and I are in our 30's, both have kids, and we are trying to organize a family reunion. We have a group on Facebook, but every time we seem to agree on a venue, somebody eventually objects and puts a kink in our plans. Some are ugly about it online, and this has led to my sister and I contradicting each other in the group which led to more ugly comments about us "control freaks," then an argument between us, now it is 2 months before the planned date and we have not been speaking for 2 weeks! I know my sister has not been talking to anyone or making plans for location, etc. Is there any way to pull this thing off and have our families get together for the first time in five years, or should we just cut our losses and cancel altogether?
- Family Feuder

Hi Feuder,
I want to be honest with you up front. I am not a fan of the particular social media site you referenced. I have never had a personal page on it. There is only a basic contact site for this column. It always seemed phony and creepy to me, and exponentially more so after I learned of their deceptive research practices. That said, to each his or her own. I can suspend my personal bias and tell you that no matter what mode your communication, when it has been determined to not work multiple times, then drop it. I cannot remember how many times I have advised folks that some people cannot handle social media or texting, even if you can, and those people should quit or be quit; preferably, both.

You are trying to organize a simple event to unite and stay in touch with family members. Do just that. Keep in touch by calling or emailing them, possibly with a digital flyer. You could also start a website easily with very little cost, if you plan to repeat the event and this is a great way to avoid an overcrowded site with a lot of commenting and cattiness, but no real cooperative planning or participation. The key difference is that an invitation to call your phone, email you directly or visit a specifically purposed website is that the people who show up in those places, however fewer in numbers, are showing genuine interest in achieving a group objective and not simply bored or seeking a session of thumbercise to let off some steam and create multiple and confusing threads of messages.

We do not have to poll and review the enthusiasm away for every event in our lives. You asked around, got some date and location suggestions and you are donating your time and your best effort to accomodate as many invitees as possible. That should be enough. It is too easy for people on social media who invest nothing in an idea or group, and will likely never show up or help anyway, to carp and needle away at constructive suggestions, eventually polluting the entire discussion with doubt and exhausting participants who burn out and cancel.

Once you have some responses and a venue confirmed, maybe a live, real-time telephone call to your sister followed by a coffee or lunch date will help patch things up and you can ask for her help making this event a success.

Proud Granny

Hi Tim,
I am a proud middle-aged Mom to my gay son "Billy", 22, and happy to show it. I have gone to Pride with him, my husband and I have always been very supportive and welcomed his boyfriend of 2 years, and we do everything we can short of joining PFLAG. I also have a very straight pair of older children, his brother and sister, who have two boys and a girl between them ages 6, 3 and 2. My other kids love Billy although we can tell they are uncomfortable around him since he came out at 18. They have spoken to me about limiting the time the kids spend with Billy when he is home from college on the weekends, the most popular time for the kids to visit, too.

I don't know what to say, how do I limit their time together, the grandkids love Billy and he is great with them. Yes, he is "flamboyant," I personally don't understand what the big deal is, but they have sat down with me together and asked me to run interference when Billy is around, not let him talk about dating boys and such, because it would confuse them. Is this true? Please tell me what you think.
- Proud Granny

Hi Granny,
"Some boys love other boys and some girls love other girls, and they get married to each other and have their own children just like boys and girls marry each other and have children. No one can decide who to love or tell another person who to love, it just happens naturally. We are all the same no matter who we love, and more love just makes the world a better place." - Tim White

You are welcome. Tell your grandchildren that and be done with it. If they even ask, tell them yes, Uncle Billy prefers to date men. Children are so remarkably open and intelligent. If there is any garbage or confusion or anxiety or fear you can set your watch by it; that stuff came from an adult. Perhaps via their own progeny at a shared day care facility or school, but the negative messages do not come from a child and his or her developing, inquisitive mind. They were absorbed as they swirled around in their environment, or in some cases were crammed in there intentionally. Tell your other kids, preferably together, that they either feel comfortable with their kids around Billy or they do not; you cannot police them around your house waiting to interrupt or tackle Billy to the ground if he uses the wrong pronoun or otherwise invokes the "G-word." It is telling that they could not even talk directly to their own brother about the matter. Maybe you do not need to join PFLAG, but referring your straight kids to this resource may provide them with just the education they need to raise healthy, tolerant children.

Doomed

Hi Tim,
I am a man in my 20's with a good job and nice life. I grew up in a nightmare, with a drunken father and bipolar mother, they were both in and out of treatment for my entire childhood, with more drama than I could possibly describe from the time I can remember.

They have slowed down a little since they are getting older, and we have maintained a civil relationship with some healthy distance, but here is my problem. Whether I lose a job or a relationship doesn't work out or I have to move or decide to go back to college and finish as I recently did, they never fail to make some comment about how they are mentally ill or alcoholic, even diabetic, and I most certainly will be, too. My mom will even take a piece of cake out of my hands and tell me she just saved my life. Any disappointment I try to share with them or even extended relatives ends in a sad prediction for my future life as unstable and unhealthy, when in fact that is not true. I am very healthy, I have never had mental problems, just garden variety boring life or transition issues, no more than anyone else. If everything is just a direct genetic guarantee, what is the point in trying any more to be happy?
- Doomed

Hi Doomed,
Please, please, please read this little snippet from the National Institutes of Health about genetic predisposition vs. genetic causation. It is one of the most misunderstood concepts I have encountered with clients for 20 years. This applies to all diseases so just put the names and labels aside for a few minutes and digest this information. Predisposition is not causation. You may be predisposed to a long list of conditions and never know because they may never be activated. Predisposition to this or that may increase your risk, but the actual development of a disease may depend on multiple other factors. The only person you should be listening to is your primary care physician. He or she will likely already know your medical history and be vigilant about testing or observation of any other symptoms that may be manifested. If not, make it clear that you want them monitored. Follow 100 percent of recommendations to decrease your risk. Do not spend the rest of your otherwise happy life waiting for the other gene to drop.

You are not your parents or any extended family members. Their persistent "concerns" are far less about medicine and science than they are about their struggles with guilt, insecurities, anger, jealousy, and mortality among who knows what else. Your parents may be unhappy or even depressed about their circumstances and past poor choices, and other family members may be doing the same or misdirecting their anger at your parents. They get emotionally immature needs met by undermining your success and happiness, bringing you "back to reality" with their paltry predictions. Tell them to cancel the medical amateur hour routine immediately, unless they want the civil relationship you share to gain even more distance.

Fit Fretter
I am a girl, 16 and I was overweight in my early teens, but I transitioned to vegan and eat healthy and exercise and I lost over 60 pounds. Now I am fit and feel great, but the change has really made me more aware of my family's issues. My parents and 2 brothers are all overweight, eat junk and drink soda and exercise very little. I want to help them change their lifestyles, but they are so defensive if I even bring it up. They tell me to butt out of their business and focus on myself. How can I help my family get healthy without embarrassing or upsetting them?
- Fit Fretter

Hi Fit Fretter,
You are in an awkward position. We know that parent's healthy choices and lifestyles can positively affect their children, but what to do when the child gets there first and cannot make the family budge? First of all, congratulations on getting healthier, and what a noble effort to bring your family on board. Good luck with the vegan conversion. I have been unsuccessful so far converting family members to vegetarian. If you win over even one family member consider it your piece de resistance. Small victories would likely be more realistic. 

Be mindful of your language. People who are overweight know it; they do not need you to remind them. Anything that begins with “You should…” or “You need do…” or “You would look so good if…”will not work. Please do not play the diet or health expert and lecture or quiz about food choices, exercise or health problems. Likewise, do not play the trainer and threaten weigh-ins, or suggest shopping for "goal clothes." Let them figure out the details on their own. Lifestyle choices are just too personal and coaching can be met with some tenacious resistance. 

What you can do is provide a living example. Work out extra hard, make your own meals ahead but eat with the family to show them how manageable change can be. Be happy and celebrate your success; get out and socialize and have new experiences. Let them try your cooking, invite them to run, swim or workout, do a charity run/walk together or go to a healthy restaurant. When they see the results of you eating healthier and being more active they may eventually be inspired to make changes of their own.

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 courtesy zeevveez, licensed under Creative Commons


The Shame Game

dorm room

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, 20 and Christian, and I have been best friends with the same girl my age, also Christian and I will call her Molly, since elementary school. We got into the same college and even managed to room together in the dorm for our first year. Molly and I had made a promise to look out for each other in college. We have been stressed out, had our faith tested and been faced with so many temptations. Mostly, we have been able to avoid trouble. The problem is that she has been spending nights with a guy she just met a couple of months ago. Sleeping with him! We just never brought it up until she was gone 2 days and then we had a heart-to-heart talk. It turns out she slept with 3 guys before him! She says she really likes him but who knows, apparently she'll hop into any bed that's convenient, and I told her I was disappointed in who she was becoming and now we are civil but don't have any real conversations or hang out anymore. We are growing apart and I have no idea what to do. I feel like a have a responsibility to try to save my friend. Please advise.
- Chaste Mateless

Hi Chaste Mateless,
Your concern is touching. Actually, it is touching my gag reflex. You and your friend are adults; women, not girls as you identified. You are both free to explore whatever kind of relationships you desire. I hope she is being safe, and she seems content with her current circumstances, so why does it bother you? Because you both took some kind of chastity vow? I just cannot help thinking how lucky you are that she carries out her exploration elsewhere, sparing you the all-too-common college experience of being awakened in the night by the headboard banging a hole in the wall, or coming home exhausted to find a tie/scarf tied to the doorknob and having to spend the night on a cafeteria table or a bench.

As for your faith, it is just that. Her faith is her faith, and faith is supposed to be personal unless you are seeking to join a cult. The ruler of your friend's body is your friend, and she will likely not be a friend much longer if you persist in slut-shaming her. Please do not let your own moral code, or jealousy, or whatever is fuelling your inappropriate judgment cost you a best friend. Show your support, trust and unconditional love and start accepting that growing up sometimes means growing a little apart, but it does not have to mean growing away altogether.

Not Homophobic

Hi Tim,
U.S. War Veteran, 58 years old here and married for almost 40 of those. We live in the suburbs and my wife who is 57 has been on some kind of quest to become a hipster lately. She wears younger-looking clothes, listens to crap pop music of the day, spends a good hour or two a day on the internet, has me trying some pretty weird stuff in the bedroom, sometimes more than once a week, and then there is her latest project. She has made friends with a gay man-couple who live a few doors down and can't seem to get enough of their company. I am open-minded, to each his own, but she hangs out with them and now she is inviting them over for dinners. No offense to anyone, but what in the hell do we talk about? We probably have nothing in common, and I have been friendly but when I see them kiss or hold each others' hand my skin crawls. I try my best not to imagine what goes on in their bedroom.

These are nice boys, but they are in their 30's and talking about having a baby, who knows how that is going to happen I assume they are adopting, anyway I wish them the best but they are already calling us uncle and aunt, now they will be around more and how do I tell them I feel weird around them?
-Not Homophobic

Hi Not Homophobic,
Pleased to meet you, my name is Not Sarcastic! My heart truly goes out to you for the heavy load you must bear: a libidinous wife who ravages you in bed and has her own interests to keep her busy the rest of the time, and your two new friends. Go ahead and have those dinners, and keep your ooky thoughts, which are all from your own twisted imagination, to yourself. I would suggest trying to remember all those dinners you have had with straight couples where you did not think at all about them doing it. If I can read your letter without breaking into a giggle-fit when you say, "gay man-couple," you can get through dinner and hold it down, too. For your information, gay men are commonly having their own biological children within their same-sex relationships, as well as successfully adopting.

In short, be happy for your wife, enjoy all your sex and embrace your new gay friends, you will get used to them, may even find some things in common and stay youthful longer if you embrace some change rather than resist it all. Also, I do want to thank you sincerely for your service.

Bad News Bearer

Hi Tim,
I am a 33 year old woman with a 4 year old daughter. She has been close to my aunt who we recently found out has terminal brain cancer. She has been given a few weeks at the most to live, and I do not know how to break this news to my daughter. It is breaking my heart, what do I say if anything at all?
- Bad News Bearer

Hi Bearer,
I am so sorry to hear the news, and yes, your daughter is quite young to have to process it. The prognosis is grim indeed, but children live very much in the present. Four-year-olds understand illness, and understand that some are worse than others. Your daughter can understand that Aunt Frannie is ill, and she will understand when her symptoms become worse. However, the choice to share her passing after the fact is such a personal one, and so closely related to personal faith or philosophies that I am reluctant to give specific recommendations or resources. Your daughter should be told that her aunt was too sick to stay with us, but will always live in our hearts. The details in between are up to you.

Deflated

Hi Tim,
I am a man, 55 and my wife of 30 years is 53. We had 2 children and now the nest is empty. Back in our 20's, we had an active sex life and even more importantly, had fun together. Now, we just shuffle through day after day working and never talking or connecting, and it makes me sad. It feels like we are on automatic and we have not slept together in over 2 years. When I try to talk about sex she responds by saying that I am a typical man and just beg like a dog for sex as if that is all that matters. She shuts me down and we never talk about anything personal. Then I mostly just stay to myself for awhile. That could not be further from the truth I just want us to let loose and have fun, and I think sex might be a good place to start. Is this going to be the rest of our lives?
-Deflated

Hi Deflated,
I could suggest books, or other resources, but you and your wife will probably never be able to recapture the intimacy you once enjoyed if you cannot even talk about it together without having to adopt adversarial corners and resort to name-calling. You need professional help. You can begin searching for it here. Being able to talk with an objective third party is essential at this point, and both of you should be willing to participate if you want to keep your relationship healthy.

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 courtesy Alex Erde, licensed under Creative Commons








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