Should I Keep Managing My Dad’s Money For Free After He Wrote Me Out Of His Will, And Other Advice Column Questions
GOOD QUESTION

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There are too many excellent advice columns to keep up with, so we’re committed to bringing you links to the best advice column questions and answers every week. Here’s a roundup of the most interesting, thought-provoking and surprising questions that our favorite columnists (and subreddits) addressed in recent days.

Should I Continue Managing My Dad’s Portfolio For Free After He Wrote Me Out Of His Will?

My mom died a few years ago and left substantial assets (she was an heiress of sorts) to my father, with the understanding that whatever was left over after he passed would be willed to my two siblings and me, which sat just fine with all of us. As I work in wealth management, my dad gave me access to the portfolio and accounts, to keep an eye on them and make sure that everything was performing at its best. Last year, my father remarried to a woman with college-age children. I like them just fine but haven’t made a point of getting home to spend time with them much. My father revealed to me a few months ago that he was changing his will to leave the huge majority of the assets to his wife and her family. My siblings and I are all quite comfortable on our own, and I frankly expected this type of action eventually. I thought it went without saying that I would no longer take time out of my schedule to care for funds that I no longer have a stake in, but my dad asked me at lunch, with most of our families in attendance, how a certain account was doing, and I responded that I hadn’t looked at his portfolio since he’d disinherited my siblings and me. Everyone got noticeably quiet and awkward, and I changed the subject. My father called me later to say that his wife and stepkids were upset that I had spoken “hostilely” about money, which struck me as off, but I do have Asperger’s, so I’ve missed cues before. I clarified that I wasn’t really bothered by the disinheritance, but I would continue to call the situation as I saw it. He’s irate that I told him to hire outside help to manage his money. Prudie, I am open to the possibility that I am in the wrong. Please advise.

[Slate]

Daniel Mallory Ortberg thinks that the letter writer should have explicitly told their father they wouldn’t continue managing his money after he wrote them out of his will but that, otherwise, they did nothing wrong. “[I]f your father’s ‘irate’ that you’re no longer willing to do this job for free, he’s being unreasonable, and you certainly don’t have to apologize for it,” he writes. Read the rest of his answer.

Is It Inappropriate To Use ‘XXX’ As A Placeholder In Documents At Work?

I recently had a weird experience where I don’t know if I should be changing a practice or if another person is being silly. I’m in an early career position where I’m writing a lot of memos and short papers. Sometimes I have to share documents and drafts before all the details of an issue are known or researched so I use a bolded “XXX” in the text to signal where I need to plug something in. (For example: “of the 542 participants, XXX said they would repeat the program” or “XXX% of their funding comes from…”) I find it easy to type and easy to spot in a document full of text.

However, I recently had a senior team member (who considers herself a mothering person) come to me, scandalized, because I was putting “porn symbols” in the drafts. I never once considered this to be an issue (while I now know what “XXX” can imply, I started doing this as a fill-this-in-later when I was an early teen). I don’t want to be stubborn, but I also feel like if someone is being ridiculous it’s better to hold your ground. Do I change my drafting process?

[Ask A Manager]

Alison Green agrees that “XXX” is a common placeholder with no sexual connotations. “That said, if this pearl-clutching coworker has a lot of influence in your office, you might be better off just rolling your eyes internally and changing to ‘XX,’ which is also common for this kind of use,” she writes. Read the rest of her answer.

How Can I Tell My Mom I Don’t Want To Give Her Feedback On The Gay Sex Scenes In Her Novel?

My mother has written a novel. I’m really proud of her, and I know she’s enjoying writing again and having something outside of her job, which she hates, to feel accomplished in. She keeps asking me for advice on certain sections of the novel and I’ve been happy to help, but here’s the problem: She’s started asking for help for her gay sex scenes.

We do not have that sort of relationship. She knows I’m gay, but we’ve never, ever discussed sex except in an abstract way. 

How do I tell my mum that I don’t want to read her sex scenes and give feedback?

[Out]

John Paul Brammer deems the letter writer’s mom “iconic” and encourages the letter writer to tell her they’re not comfortable providing that kind of feedback. “My advice would be to direct your mom to some writing groups where she can share her work, get constructive feedback, and connect with other writers,” he writes. Read the rest of his answer.

Was I Wrong To Let My 4-Year-Old Kid ‘Explore’ A Restaurant While My Wife And I Ate?

My wife and I and our 4-year-old son were out to dinner last week. It was a medium-nice restaurant, not fast food, but not super fancy either. My son is a normal, active little boy, and it’s hard for him to sit through a whole dinner, so we let him explore the restaurant a little. I noticed our waitress giving him the hairy eyeball, so we asked him to stop running. He was pretty good about it after that, but he did get underfoot when she was carrying a tray, and she spoke to him pretty sharply to go back to our table and sit down. I felt it was completely uncalled for, and she should have come and spoken to us personally instead of disciplining someone else’s child. 

I tipped 5 percent and spoke briefly to her manager, who gave noncommittal replies. My wife agrees with me, but when we posted about it on Facebook, we got a lot of judgy responses. 

[Slate]

Nicole Cliffe encourages the letter writer to return to the restaurant, apologize and give the server a generous tip. “You weren’t parenting, so a server did it for you,” she writes. “She was right. You were wrong.” Read the rest of her answer.

Should I Dance With My Husband, My Dad And Each Of My Three Brothers In Front Of All My Wedding Guests?

I understand that it is traditional for the bride to dance with her father at her wedding. I like the ceremony and symbolism of that father-daughter dance, and I would also like to recognize each of my three brothers by dancing with them.

However, I would think that it would be rather tedious for my guests to sit through five dances (including the first dance of the bride and groom) before being allowed to take the floor themselves. What is proper in this situation?

[UExpress]

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin rule that it’s fine to dance with each brother, but not as a performance. “After you get that ‘Awwww’ reaction for your dance with your father, Miss Manners expects you to invite your guests to begin general dancing,” they write. Read the rest of their answer.

Why Won’t My Sons Display Pictures Of Me In Their Homes?

I’m the mother of six children, three girls and three boys. I’ve discovered something that is hurtful to me. At my daughters’ homes, they have lots of photos of me and their dad and me alone or with them. But at my sons’ homes, there are no photos of me or even me with one of them. One son has a group photo with me in it. They have their own photos as parents out prominently though. They seem to like me. I know it isn’t true in all families, but I’m wondering if boys are just not aware of things like this or what? Our daughters-in-law are uncaring. 

[Creators]


Annie Lane urges the letter writer to let this go. “Your sons are inviting you into their homes, and that matters far more than the decor,” she writes. Read the rest of her answer.

LV Anderson is the news editor at Grist and an advice column aficionado.

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