Dear John: It All Comes Out in the Wash
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
What’s your problem? Write to John at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am very upset about a situation with my two kids. I am a single mom of a 15-year-old son and a 16-year old daughter. Last week, I emptied out the washing machine and at the bottom of the machine I saw what looked like a crumpled paper that had been left in a pocket. I took it out to throw it away and was shocked to find it was a condom (unopened) that had gone through the wash. Both of my kids had clothes in that load of laundry and I have no way of knowing whose it was. I am very, very upset to think that either of my kids is sexually active. It is not something I have even been comfortable talking with them about. I have done it, but I am not good at it and just get very embarrassed. Obviously, there’s more talking we have to do, but is it justifiable to go through their bedrooms or backpacks to see if I can get to the bottom of who this belonged to? I have never done anything like that, but I feel like this is almost an emergency so extreme measures are okay! Help!
Dear Worried Mom,
I agree that there are times when invading a kid’s privacy is justifiable. But even if this were one of those times, there’s a much better way to handle this: you have to get over your reluctance to talk to your kids frankly about sex.
I understand it’s embarrassing, but it gets less so every time you do it. Just get the conversation started – that’s the hardest part. Call your son and daughter together, place the condom on the table, say you found it in the washing machine and ask them how it got there. One of them may admit it’s his or hers, or they may both deny knowing anything about it. You can’t force them to talk to you about what going on in their personal lives, but less important than solving the condom mystery is letting them know that you’re involved, that you care about them, and that they can talk with you about whatever’s on their minds. It could be enormously beneficial to your family to force yourself to have this conversation.
It is a shock to any parent to learn her baby is having sex, and it is doubly shocking, I’m sure, to come by the knowledge so unceremoniously. But there’s a very bright side here: your child apparently understands the importance of using condoms if he or she is going to have sex. Even without much open communication at home, your kid has learned, after the advisability of abstinence for 15- and 16-year-olds, the most important lesson of all.
I have a good buddy I’ve worked out at a gym with for several years. We keep each other motivated and half the time I go, I go because I don’t want to let him down. I know he feels the same way.
Apparently, gay men use an online classifieds site to arrange meetings with each other in the sauna of the gym that we go to. This is according to an article recently in a local newspaper. (Mind you, neither one of us has ever seen even a hint of this kind of thing.) Now my friend doesn’t want to go there anymore because in his mind, it’s a “gay” gym! He’s trying to get me to go to another gym that’s a lot less convenient for me, and he’s just assuming I’ll go along with it. The article caused a bit of a fuss and the management of the gym has taken steps to make sure the sauna is free of any inappropriate activity, so I have been trying to talk him into coming back without success. I think maybe it’s time for us to find new workout partners, but he doesn’t like that idea at all. Who should bend a little here, do you think?
Weight On My Shoulders
You’re at an impasse with incompatible desires, so this isn’t really a question of bending. Bending only works when there’s some middle ground to bend toward. Your friend doesn’t want to attend a gym frequented by gay men, and you don’t want to go to a different gym that’s less convenient for you. You can try reasoning with him, but his apparent homophobia is unreasonable, so I wouldn’t hold out much hope there. Seems to me like it’s time to start looking for a new workout partner. But if you advertise on craigslist, make sure you’re very clear about what you’re looking for.
I have a new girlfriend who has a dog that she loves – and I’m not exaggerating. She is just crazy about this dog. She considers him her best friend.
The problem is that she lets this dog lick her on the mouth, which is something that I find nauseating. We’ve already had one minor argument about the fact that I didn’t want to kiss her on the mouth after the dog had been slobbering all over her. It’s disgusting! And probably not even healthy. I don’t want to tell her what to do, but don’t you think this is weird? Is it reasonable to ask her not to let the dog do that if we’re going to be spending time together?
Woman’s Best Friend, Too
It’s reasonable for you to object to kissing someone whose lips are still wet from dog saliva if that’s how you feel. But I don’t think your relationship will get very far if you present this as a demand or condition. You have to offer your girlfriend a choice and hope that she chooses you. Tell her you don’t like the thought of kissing her after her dog has been licking her mouth. Don’t say it’s weird or gross or unhealthy; don’t tell her all your friends think it’s weird. None of that matters. All that matters is she doesn’t think it’s weird. Simply state that you don’t like it, but you DO like her, and ask her if she would consider avoiding kissing the dog if she’ll be kissing you later. If she says yes, great. If she says no, though, you have to decide if you’re willing to settle for being her second-best friend.
John is a middle-aged family man from Providence, Rhode Island. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at email@example.com.
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